A Legacy of Inspiration
Walter Knopp was a Pittsburgh-area entrepreneur and ALS patient whose gifts supported the pioneering work of Professor Robert Bowser at the University of Pittsburgh. Dr. Bowser, then an Associate Professor of Pathology and Director of Pitt’s ALS Research Center, turned to Mr. Knopp to fund early research of biomarkers of ALS. When Dr. Bowser joined with LaunchCyte LLC of Pittsburgh and Dr. Gregory Hebrank to form a new ALS biomarkers company, the founders adopted “Knopp” as their corporate moniker in recognition of his visionary gift. Shortly after the company’s founding in 2004, Mr. Knopp died at the age of 60.
While founded as a biomarker company, Knopp’s goals from the start included identifying potential treatments for ALS. Within several months of its founding, the company identified a drug candidate under study by James Bennett, M.D., Ph.D., then of the University of Virginia. Following a period of due diligence led by experienced pharmaceutical industry advisors, Knopp, in 2006, secured a license to Dr. Bennett’s discoveries and transformed itself into an ALS-focused drug development concern, recruiting a small staff of experienced drug developers to Pittsburgh.
In slightly more than three years, Knopp advanced this drug, dexpramipexole, through chemical development, preclinical toxicology, Phase 1 safety trials, and a Phase 2 proof-of-concept study.
Knopp today is an integrated biotech company with significant clinical development capabilities and discovery programs in the areas of mitochondrial and ion channel biology. But our name has not changed, providing us with an ongoing reminder of the challenges—and the vision—of Walter Knopp.
Knopp's pipeline consists of investigational drug products that have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. These investigational drug products are still undergoing clinical study to verify their safety and effectiveness.