When Sabah Oney joined Alector three years ago, the two-year-old company helmed by CEO Arnon Rosenthal had a lean, 15-staffer operation tightly packed into one small space.
Today, it’s 65 people — headed to 90 by the end of the year — and the chief business officer can look forward to much more space with a new and expansive 100,000-square foot HQ under construction in South San Francisco.
So as the company positions its first three drugs for neurodegenerative diseases to enter human studies for the first time, this is a great time for a $133 million Series E mega-round.
“Our goal is to rejuvenate the immune system,” says Oney. But instead of the adaptive immune system, where you can rev up a targeted response, think innate, where the immune system can play a critical supportive role in cleansing — or preventing the accumulation of — toxic material in the brain.
At this stage of the game, Alector has now raised $420 million, including $205 million gained in an upfront from its company-making alliance with AbbVie.
The biotech is one of the new companies that want to move past the amyloid beta- or tau-focused companies, where there have been far more misses than hits in human studies. By concentrating on more narrow, genetically focused targets, Alector believes that it can start making a difference with monotherapies, as the players in the field move toward more complex cocktail therapies that can hit their targets from multiple sides.
Their lead drug AL001 is exciting, says chief medical officer Robert Paul. Zeroing in on a very narrow, genetically defined population with good biomarkers to guide them along the way, Paul believes their drug can accomplish the very simple task of bringing progranulin back up to normal.
And there are good reasons to believe that once they do that, they can make a very distinct difference in the lives of patients with rare cases of frontotemporal dementia.
Two other targets are TREM2 and SIGLEC-3 for Alzheimer’s.
Check out the syndicate:
Deerfield Management, AbbVie Ventures, Federated Kaufmann Fund, Section 32, Euclidean Capital, Foresite Capital, Lilly Asia Ventures, New Leaf Venture Partners, Perceptive Advisors, Casdin Capital, Polaris Partners, OrbiMed, MRL Ventures, GV, the Dementia Discovery Fund, Mission Bay Capital, Amgen Ventures, and others.
With that group Alector moves one step closer to an IPO. And somewhere up ahead the company hopes to eventually make it to a pivotal trial, when the biotech can consider its prospects in adding a commercial operation.
Images: Muhammad Alhawagri/ALECTOR
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