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UF Innovate | Ventures Invests in AbFero Pharmaceuticals

Press release from UF Innovate | Ventures

The University of Florida’s newly established venture fund, directed by UF Innovate | Ventures, has invested part of its inaugural fund in AbFero Pharmaceuticals, Inc. UF Innovate Ventures is acting as a follow-on investor to the lead investor Longwall Ventures from the United Kingdom.

AbFero’s therapeutic platform addresses transfusion-related iron overload and iron accumulation associated with retinal and neurologic diseases including age-related macular degeneration, Parkinson’s disease, and traumatic brain injury. The Boston-based company has completed three clinical trials with SP-420, its lead iron chelator molecule.

“We are pleased to invest part of fiscal year 2020’s venture fund in AbFero. This is particularly rewarding as Dr. Ray Bergeron, the company’s chief scientific officer and cofounder, has had a long, prolific relationship with our office, and he has dedicated his career to drug discovery and development in iron overload diseases,” said Jim O’Connell, director of UF Innovate.

“We’re delighted that UF Innovate has chosen AbFero Pharmaceuticals as one of the venture fund’s earliest investments.  It’s a meaningful vote of confidence from a leader in university innovation impact, and it marks another milestone in a long-standing relationship between AbFero and Prof. Raymond Bergeron, who is a pioneer in the field of iron chelation,” says AbFero CEO Thomas X. Neenan, Ph.D.

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“The role of iron as a therapeutic target has been underappreciated to date, but emerging data suggests iron accumulation plays a key role in neurodegenerative and age-related diseases,” Neenan notes.  “AbFero has a particular interest in the role of iron in those diseases – specifically Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s, and macular degeneration. Our brain-penetrant, small molecule chelator platform may prove to be an important addition to existing therapies.”

“Iron overload is implicated in several major diseases in addition to transfusion iron overload. We are very excited about the large potential for the drug developed by Dr. Bergeron to address multiple indications,” said Jackson Streeter, M.D., director of UF Innovate | Ventures.

“We’ve long valued our collaborative relationship with UF,” adds Neenan.  “We’re now looking forward to joining UF’s innovation ecosystem and, with UF Innovate’s support, AbFero is moving closer to fulfilling our mission to develop novel therapies for diseases of iron overload.”

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