Helexva recognized as a ‘Startup to Watch’

Helexva News Translational Sciences UPMC Enterprises

A UPMC Enterprises portfolio company developing genetically targeted therapies for Huntington’s disease was named a “Startup to Watch” by the Pittsburgh Business Times. 

Helexva, founded by Robert Friedlander, MD, the chair of the Department of Neurological Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh, was one of 10 companies to receive the Startups to Watch designation based on its “exceptional potential” to impact the Pittsburgh region.  

The Translational Sciences team at UPMC Enterprises, which forms and supports life sciences companies based on discoveries by UPMC and University of Pittsburgh medical researchers, provided funding to Helexva earlier this year and first invested in 2022.  

The Translational Sciences team, which also invests in existing biotech startups around the world, is focused on diseases of the central nervous system along with oncology, ophthalmology, and autoimmune diseases.  

Helexva is a pre-clinical company developing a family of peptide nucleic acids (PNAs) that target mutations that cause genetic diseases. The company’s initial target is for Huntington’s disease, a neurodegenerative disease that is ultimately fatal and currently has no disease-modifying treatment options. The PNAs also could have applications in other inherited genetic conditions.  

Dr. Friedlander is a world-renowned neurosurgeon who treats complex cerebrovascular disorders and leading scientist investigating the mechanisms of neuronal cell death in a broad spectrum of neurological diseases. His work has developed new approaches for the treatment of stroke, brain and spinal cord injury, as well as Huntington’s disease and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). 

Learn more about our portfolio of companies in Translational Sciences. 

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