Startups, Venture

Prevail grabs $75M A round in the hunt for new gene therapies to stop the destruction caused by Parkinson’s

Another biotech upstart is coming along to compete in the fast-growing arena of gene therapy development for neurodegenerative diseases.

Asa Abeliovich

Just a couple of weeks after AbbVie tied up with Voyager on a gene therapy program for Alzheimer’s, Prevail Therapeutics is debuting today with a $75 million A round and a mission to go after a disease-modifying approach to Parkinson’s disease. The biotech was seeded by OrbiMed and the Silverstein Foundation.

The work is being led by founding CEO Asa Abeliovich, a Columbia University researcher who in-licensed AAV transport tech from Regenxbio. His academic research explored the genetics of Parkinson’s, and Prevail will work on new treatments that can address the disease among genetically defined subpopulations.

“We’re not revealing the precise targets of our leads,” he tells me. “But we have a very clear mechanistic theme” in a field where lysosomal dysfunction operates as a key mechanism in Parkinson’s. That dysfunction tends to run rampant as the body ages, triggering many of the toughest diseases in R&D.

The biotech got started in stealth mode last year, setting up operations at the Alexandria Center by the East River. That complex has been emerging as a central hub within a growing New York biotech scene.

Abeliovich has a high profile in the neurodegeneration field. He helped co-found Alector, which is going after Alzheimer’s, along with antibody expert Tillman Gerngross and Genentech vet Arnon Rosenthal.

Investors in the A round include OrbiMed, Pontifax Fund, RA Capital Management, EcoR1 Capital, Omega Funds, BVF Partners, Boxer Capital, Adage Capital Management, and Alexandria Venture Investments.

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