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Kurve Therapeutics Founder Marc Giroux on Treating Alzheimer’s and More

Introduction

The central nervous system (CNS) disorder umbrella houses a number of familiar names, like Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and multiple sclerosis. These conditions are often life-altering to sufferers, and many are incurable. Thankfully, treatments are available, and scientists aren’t done looking for new solutions.

Kurve Therapeutics is fighting CNS disorders right up the nose with its patented Controlled Particle Dispersion technology. This intranasal technology delivers drugs noninvasively and painlessly, and it makes treatments more precise and effective. We reached out to founder and CEO Marc Giroux to hear about why he originally started working on the technology and how Kurve Therapeutics overcame assumptions.

Note: This interview was conducted over phone and email. It has been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Léa Bouhelier-Gautreau

What inspired you to take the leap and start Kurve Therapeutics?

Marc Giroux

It was an interesting process. Originally, I was not trying to invent a new technology. I was just trying to do a better job of treating my chronic sinusitis and allergy issues. Spray bottles were the only thing available, and they were almost entirely ineffective. I had lofty goals in that I wanted to get the medication into the paranasal sinuses, something considered anatomically impossible at the time. Once we accomplished that, my doctor — who was on the faculty of the University of Washington here in Seattle — started telling people, and it grew from there. I had founded four companies in the past, but this one was a completely organic process of company building.

Léa Bouhelier-Gautreau

What are some of your early successes?

Marc Giroux

We were approached by the nose-to-brain pioneers in the mid-late 2000s because while the theory of delivering drugs to the brain via the nasal cavity appeared sound, there was no device that could target the olfactory region. Using spray bottles had failed to produce any results for decades, and the opportunity seemed daunting to the early scientists. Fortunately, our pursuit of reaching all areas in the nasal cavity and paranasal sinuses had already established our ability to get to the olfactory region. What we then needed to do was figure out how to target it for maximal deposition. Once we accomplished that, we succeeded in our first clinical trial for Alzheimer’s on our first try, and we never looked back.

Léa Bouhelier-Gautreau

Who is on your team and how did you come together?

Marc Giroux

Well, I alluded to my having founded companies in the past, and the one I was working in at the time of the Kurve genesis was a high-tech executive staffing company. I was considered a subject matter expert on building executive teams, and I used that experience to recruit the people I have. 

My chief financial officer, Tom McDowell, has been with us for 14 years and is a shareholder, as is Glenn Cornett. Glenn and I were partners before he joined the team, so he knows our technology as well as anyone, and his MD and PhD are valuable in choosing targets and liaising with our partner scientists. 

Hermann Plank is our manufacturing guru, and he is an internationally known Lean Six Sigma black belt instructor in manufacturing. He has worked with companies like Gillette and Mercedes Benz, so we are in good hands when it comes to fulfilling high-volume manufacturing, which gives our partners confidence that we can supply the devices following the eventual FDA approval.

Léa Bouhelier-Gautreau

Why hasn't a device like this already been built?

Marc Giroux

Tough question to answer. The fact that the prevailing wisdom within the industry was that it was anatomically impossible to do better probably discouraged the pursuit. I was also discouraged in just this way, being told not to waste my time. 

Historically, many paradigm shifts in an industry come from people outside of that industry. I believe that is us. Obviously, we didn’t accept that it couldn’t be done and went on to be quite good at what we do. We are still the only one we are aware of that has the breadth of clinical success that we’ve enjoyed. We have now succeeded at phase I, phase II, and phase IIB in three FDA approved trials for Alzheimer’s, cognition in diabetics, and cognition in multiple sclerosis. We are one phase III trial away from launching our first product for Alzheimer’s and finally having that patient impact on a broader scale such as we have seen in our studies. 

In order to ensure we would control our own destiny, we became a drug formulation company as well, with our own proprietary formulations specifically designed for nose-to-brain delivery. We will always pursue pharmaceutical partnerships, but we need to be independent in order to stay viable at all times.

Léa Bouhelier-Gautreau

How do you intend to use the money you raise this round to scale the business?

Marc Giroux

We have several goals, but the big one is the Alzheimer’s study. We will fund and conduct the phase III trial, and we will own the full therapy, drug, and device when we go to market. As such, we will keep all of the revenue that results. This is important for investors to know. Life Science Intelligence estimates that the first disease-modifying therapy in Alzheimer’s would generate $5.5 billion in annual revenue. At this time, there are no disease-modifying Alzheimer’s therapies out there. We are considered a disease-modifying therapy by no less than the US National Institute of Health. Generating revenue at even a part of that estimation will make us quite a successful company. 

I think it is important to point out to anyone considering investing in Kurve Therapeutics that Alzheimer’s is our lowest-hanging fruit, but by no means are we limited to that. We have clinical trials running for Parkinson’s, traumatic brain injury, PTSD, stroke, mood, and anxiety, among a few others. An investor doesn’t just participate in our Alzheimer’s work. They benefit from all of our products for as long as they stay involved with us. It’s not an insignificant thing — we are aiming to change how central nervous system disorders are done, period.

Léa Bouhelier-Gautreau

As you think about the business 5-10 years down the road, what do you see exit opportunities looking like? Have you set any future goals for Kurve Therapeutics?

Marc Giroux

If some big pharma and/or big device company doesn’t come in with the right exit strategy, we will be listed on an exchange, and everyone will have the liquidity they seek. I don’t see it taking that long.

We look forward to seeing where Marc and his team take the company. Kurve Therapeutics is currently raising on Rialto Markets.

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About: Léa Bouhelier-Gautreau

Léa is passionate about impact investing and sustainability. Prior to KingsCrowd, she worked for Stanford’s accelerator, StartX, helping to select the most promising entrepreneurs. She also led the first award-winning study on the Malawian startup ecosystem. In her free-time, she volunteers to help entrepreneurs in Cameroon, Brazil and Colombia. Léa holds a degree in Anthropology from France and is currently enrolled in the UC Davis MBA program.

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