Harvard’s Quralis has added funding from investors including Viva Biotech to take its seed total to $5.5m as it looks to advance treatments for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis to the clinic.

Quralis, a US-based precision medicine spinout from Harvard University, took its seed round to $5.5m on Monday with an extension of undisclosed size from investors including drug discovery services provider Viva Biotech.

VC firm BioInnovation Capital also contributed to the extension, which follows a tranche of undisclosed size in April 2018 backed by investors including pharmaceutical firm Amgen’s corporate venturing unit, Amgen Ventures.

The initial close also featured Alexandria Venture Investments, a subsidiary of life science real estate developer Alexandria Real Estate Equities, and MP Healthcare Venture Management (MPH), part of Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharma Corporation, owned in turn by conglomerate Mitsubishi Chemical.

It is unclear whether Amgen, Alexandria and MPH also backed Quralis’s second tranche.

Founded in 2016, Quralis is working on therapies and devices that exploit genetic research to tackle amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a group of paralysing motor neuron disorders, and frontotemporal dementia.

Quralis’s pipeline consists of treatments for three subtypes of ALS – a first drug aims to restore a dysfunctional cellular waste clearance system that poisons neurons, while a second therapy treats overactive neurons and prevents resulting cell death, and a third approach is meant to remove toxic proteins.

Research has suggested many of the genes linked to ALS can also cause frontotemporal dementia.

The seed cash will support Quralis’s efforts to bring its research to the clinic. Jeffrey Moore, president of MPH, and Johannes Fruehauf, have joined the company’s board of directors.

Quralis has been accepted onto the JLabs incubator run by Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, the corporate venturing arm of healthcare group Johnson & Johnson, as well as the LabCentral laboratory program, sponsored by drug maker Pfizer.