Mission: to discover and develop small-molecule therapeutics for disorders of the central nervous system (CNS), specifically neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, Huntington’s Disease, and Spinocerebellar Ataxias.
EnVivo Pharmaceuticals was founded in 2001 and currently has 37 FTEs. EnVivo has raised ~$38M in two funding rounds, $14.9M Series A in October 2002 and $23M Series B in September 2004. Investors include scientific founders, Fidelity Bioscience Group, BBBC Investor Group that includes Baylor College of Medicine, and CoGene BioTech Ventures.
EnVivo is a biopharmaceutical company dedicated to discovering and developing drugs for central nervous system (CNS) disorders. CNS disorders account for more hospitalizations, long-term care, and chronic suffering than nearly all other diseases combined. Since age is a risk factor for many CNS disorders, the prevalence of these diseases is increasing as the population ages. The medical need in these disorders is very high as the treatment options available are not satisfactory.
EnVivo applies a novel strategy to CNS drug discovery. By introducing known genes for human diseases into fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster), EnVivo generated humanized, biologically and pharmacologically-validated models of CNS diseases. Drosophila is a useful model system for neurodegenerative drug discovery—being amenable to large-scale studies with disease pathways that are highly conserved between humans and flies (~ 77% of human disease genes have an ortholog in Drosophila). The Drosophila nervous system mediates a wide range of complex behaviors related to neurodegenerative diseases, and its genome has been sequenced and annotated.
EnVivo conducts primary screening using these Drosophila models to discover new small-molecule therapeutics. EnVivo’s technology is particularly suitable for the CNS as it screens for drugs that can act at multiple cellular and molecular sites within the complex neural circuits that regulate behavior. EnVivo has also developed biochemical (surrogate) ex vivo/in vitro assays using these Drosophila models along with cellular and other in vitro assays, enabling rapid selection and transfer of hits for vertebrate screening. Our platform does not require prior understanding of a specific therapeutic target in the disease mechanism.
In addition to in-licensing the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor agonist program from Bayer Healthcare, EnVivo’s discovery engine has generated three additional programs, each with a different mechanism of action.
EnVivo was founded by four scientific leaders in neuroscience and genetics. Enabling intellectual property has been exclusively licensed to EnVivo from leading research institutions, including Baylor College of Medicine, in Houston, Texas and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany.