4321 Medical Park Drive
Max Wallace, president and CEO
Cogent Neuroscience Inc. was founded in 1998 by Duke University researchers Lawrence Katz and Donald Lo, who together with biotechnology entrepreneur Max Wallace developed the Neural Tissue Transgenesis functional discovery platform capable of identifying neuroprotective genes, proteins and small-molecule compounds.
Cogent deploys its system to produce new chemical entities in each of its three core therapeutic programs neuroprotection/neuronal growth, gene regulation and genetic disease to address stroke, traumatic brain injury, Huntington’s, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, glaucoma, macular degeneration and other debilitating neurological conditions.
The company has discovered more than 150 proprietary DNAs that are neuroprotective and/or neuroregenerative in living brain tissue, capable of arresting the post-ischemic cell death cascade. In addition, Cogent has identified more than 50 neuroprotective chemical compounds, the most promising of which are being moved into preclinical development.
In the retina, where a number of major diseases occur due to ischemic damage to neural retinal tissue, Cogent has cross-screened DNAs from its stroke program and found that a number of those DNAs are retinally protective as well.
In its Gene Regulation program, Cogent has begun mapping the DNA sequences that underlie the brain’s genetic regulatory structure, such as promoters and enhancers. Four hundred genetic regulatory sequences in living brain tissue have been identified.
Cogent’s Genetic Disease program focuses on the induction of genetic disease in living, healthy brain tissue. This will permit the testing of potentially therapeutic compounds, cDNAs, peptides and antibodies in the context of newly diseased tissue. The program was initiated in Huntington’s disease.
In March 2001, Cogent and Elan Corp. plc, of Dublin, Ireland, formed a joint development venture dedicated to the discovery and development of therapeutic gene targets for a group of intractable brain disorders called polyglutamine repeat disorders, a class that includes Huntington’s disease. Elan will provide research support to the joint venture in addition to making an undisclosed equity investment in Cogent. Resulting products and intellectual property would be equally owned.