Ben Franklin

INVESTING IN PENNSYLVANIA’S FUTURE

QR Pharma Focuses on Treatments for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Related to Down Syndrome

Existing Alzheimer’s drugs manage the symptoms and provide only marginal cost-benefit tradeoffs. Dr. Maria Maccecchini believes it’s imperative to bring drugs to market that can actually stop the progression of the disease.

Maria L. Maccecchini, Ph.D., President & CEO, QR Pharma

A successful entrepreneur, Maccecchini’s latest venture is QR Pharma, which she launched in 2008 after acquiring the license to a number of compounds to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s affects more than 30 million people worldwide–a number that is expected to grow to more than 110 million by 2050. The economic burden and impact on the quality of life for both patients and their caregivers is crushing.

“There is no current cure for Alzheimer’s,” says Maccecchini. “But we are working toward advanced treatment to stop and maybe reverse the disease. These are novel drugs that have the potential to prevent progression of Alzheimer’s, plus we are beginning to test them in a broader spectrum of degenerative brain diseases and injuries.”

A History with Ben Franklin Technology Partners

Dr. Maria Maccecchini understands what it takes to build a company from the ground up. She has been involved as a serial entrepreneur with Ben Franklin Technology Partners of Southeastern Pennsylvania (BFTP/SEP) for many years. A former BFTP/SEP board member who is heavily involved with angel investor networks in the Philadelphia area, Maccecchini is now devoting her energy to QR Pharma.

QR Pharma received $500,000 from BFTP/SEP in 2009. Since then, QR Pharma has grown with its clinical-stage technology, developing therapeutics with two focuses, one to target early-stage and the other late-stage Alzheimer’s disease. These compounds, Posiphen and Bisnorcymserine, may prevent the progression of the disease.

“Ben Franklin Technology Partners was also the first to invest in my first company, Symphony Pharmaceuticals, which I started in 1992,” says Maccecchini. “They believe in the power of technology and new ideas, and I am grateful for the support in starting my companies.”

Applying the Knowledge to Down Syndrome Treatments

QR Pharma recently received a patent to use their compound Posiphen to treat Down Syndrome. Posiphen works to treat cognitive impairments associated with Down Syndrome. This new patent valuably expands upon the original indications of Posiphen, thereby treating dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

“The more we learn about Posiphen, the more we see how it interferes with a basic pathway that leads to dementia in Down Syndrome, Alzheimer’s and likely other conditions, such as head trauma and stroke. Posiphen is presently in a clinical trial in Alzheimer’s patients, and we are very hopeful to see the results,” says Maccecchini.

Maccecchini is actively working to bring QR Pharma’s two compounds to market as drugs. “BFTP really catalyzed QR Pharma, and we are moving the compounds forward and growing rapidly,” added Maccecchini.

Tags: , filed under Client & Alumni News, News, Southeastern PA
This article was featured in
Keynotes May, 2010
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