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ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Blog

Iron Horse Therapeutics Started with a Big Splash!

August is the official ALS Ice Bucket Challenge month, but the team behind new San Diego biotech Iron Horse Therapeutics took the challenge to celebrate the opening of the company, which aims to develop new ALS treatments.

Taking the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge are from left to right:
Damien McDevitt, Ph.D., Vice President of Business Development Pharmaceutical R&D and Head of R&D West Coast Satellite at GSK
Jay Lichter, Ph.D. , partner and managing director at Avalon Ventures and president and CEO of COI Pharmaceuticals
Maurizio Pellecchia, Ph.D., associate director of Translational Research at the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute
Perry Nisen, M.D., Ph.D., CEO and Donald Bren Chief Executive Chair of Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute
David Campbell, Ph.D ., CSO of Iron Horse Therapeutics and CSO, Small Molecules, at COI Pharmaceuticals
Sanford J. Madigan, Ph.D ., Senior VP, Business Development, COI Pharmaceuticals

ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis) is also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, after the baseball legend afflicted with the condition at the peak of his game.

“Iron Horse was Lou Gehrig’s nickname, and so we wanted to name this company after him as a tribute,” said Dr. Campbell.

New drug candidates licensed from Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute
Iron Horse Therapeutics is developing treatments designed to affect the activity of a protein called EphA4; blocking EphA4 in ALS animal models has been shown to prolong survival and decrease disease severity. Molecules that interfere with EphA4 were initially identified in the laboratory headed by Dr. Pellecchia and were exclusively licensed by the Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute to Iron Horse Therapeutics.

Although Lou’s number was 4, Iron Horse Therapeutics is number 7

Iron Horse is the seventh company launched through a collaboration between Avalon and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and is housed within Avalon’s Community of Innovation, called COI Pharmaceuticals. COI Pharma provides new companies with operational support and a fully equipped R&D facility, as well as mentoring and advice from an experienced leadership team.

“We’re all excited to see Iron Horse Therapeutics up and running and to launch the seventh company under our collaboration with Avalon Ventures,” said Dr. McDevitt.

No time like the present.

Dr. Campbell noted that even though it is August “it’s always a good time to support medical research.”

He ended their Ice Bucket Challenge by calling on another of his colleagues on the Avalon/GSK collaboration, Lon Cardon, Ph.D., Senior Vice President of Alternative Discovery and Development at GSK, to be next up to take the Ice Bucket Challenge. We await his video!

Read the press release here.