By Raghav Mahobe
(Reuters) – Drug developer QurAlis Corp said on Thursday it had raised $88 million in a funding round led by Dutch firm EQT Life Sciences and French drugmaker Sanofi’s venture capital arm, among others.
The company did not reveal the valuation at which it raised the funding, which it expects to use for developing therapies for the life-threatening neurological disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) that has no cure.
Massachusetts-based QurAlis, also backed by Amgen Inc’s venture capital unit, has so far raised a total of $143.5 million since it was founded in 2016, including $42 million in its previous round in May 2020.
Turbulent economic conditions squeezed funding for US startups last year as venture capital investors hesitated to pour money, in a stark contrast to a year earlier when easy monetary policy had sparked a frenzied dealmaking environment in the private market.
“We’re outside of the era of two years ago, when… the sky was the limit (for funding),” QurAlis Chief Executive Officer Kasper Roet told Reuters.
The unmet need for a new ALS treatment, which QurAlis is targeting, is so high that there will be support for it regardless of market conditions, said Cillian King, managing director at EQT Life Sciences.
QurAlis’ two lead ALS programs – QRL-201 and QRL-101 – are both in early-stage trials.
QRL-201 aims to restore expression of a protein called Stathmin-2, which is significantly decreased in the majority of ALS patients, according to the company.
The US health regulator last year approved Amylyx Pharmaceuticals Inc’s drug to slow progression of ALS, making it the third US Food and Drug Administration-approved ALS therapy.
QurAlis said it will also use the proceeds from the latest funding round, which included investors LSP Dementia Fund and Droia Ventures, for advancing other drugs in the pipeline, including its treatment for a type of dementia.
(Reporting by Raghav Mahobe in Bengaluru; Editing by Shinjini Ganguli)