With the evidence increasingly weighing in against amyloid beta as the best solo target for Alzheimer’s, a startup out of San Francisco has identified a brand new target and now has a $76 million B round to put it through its first proof-of-concept study.
The scientific inspiration for the biotech comes from UCSF psychiatrist Steve Dominy, who identified a bacterial pathogen that he believes plays a key role in the pathology of the disease. Initially working out of JLABS Bay Area facility, Cortexyme has now completed animal studies as well as a Phase I safety test to set the stage for a Phase II human study.
Cortexyme got started with some marquee backers, including Pfizer (which recently exited neurosciences), Takeda Ventures, Lamond Family, Breakout Ventures, and Dolby Family Venture, Sequoia Capital, Vulcan Capital, Verily Life Sciences, EPIQ Capital Group, RSL Investments, Huizenga Capital, and an unidentified long-term mutual fund joined the syndicate.
Alzheimer’s remains the hardest target in drug R&D, taking down a series of contenders in a long lineup of failed studies over 10-plus years. Those failures, in turn, have inspired a hunt for better targets, combination approaches and a drive to treat patients at ever-earlier stages of the disease. Cortexyme faces tough odds, but with the potential rewards for any approved therapy tipping the scales to the megablockbuster range, this remains the industry’s lottery ticket — with ultra-high risks and rewards to consider.
“Our streamlined, efficient approach to drug development allowed us to move from seed funding to phase 1 data in less than four years,” said CEO Casey Lynch. “We’re committed to continuing to move swiftly through phase 2 proof of efficacy studies in service of bringing new therapies to patients suffering from Alzheimer’s and related conditions.”
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