- Biotech startup Alector is getting ready to put its first batch of neurodegenerative drugs into humans after raising an additional $133 million.
- Alector is developing treatments that harness the body’s immune system to tackle conditions like Alzheimer’s, and other forms of dementia.
- The plan is to get two drugs into clinical trials in the next few months, with a third starting in early 2019.
Alector, a startup that’s trying to harness the body’s immune system to treat neurologic diseases like Alzheimer’s just raised another $133 million to get its first batch of drugs into human trials.
The approach of using the body’s immune system to treat a particular disease has so far proven successful in the field of cancer, where it’s known as immuno-oncology. It’s led to remarkable remissions in some patients, along with some first-of-its kind approvals. San Francisco-based Alector is hoping to have similar success in building out the field of “immuno-neurology.”
Alector is looking for treatments that target the body’s innate immune system, using the genetic markers associated with neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease.
It’s because of that genetic information that scientists have come to better understand the link between the immune system and Alzheimer’s. The hope is that by more broadly going for immune system, the treatments might have a better shot at working than more targeted approaches that have had some setbacks in the past few years.
Its three lead drugs, Alector said Wednesday, will include two for Alzheimer’s, one of which will work to apply the brakes to the immune system while the other will look to speed it up. The third, a treatment for frontotemporal dementia, will act on a genetic defect associated with the condition to reactivate the immune system.
Alector’s chief business officer Sabah Oney told Business Insider that the funding will be used to “push those drugs into the clinic” as well as grow the company’s pipeline. Two will enter the clinic in the next few months, while a third will get started in early 2019.
More than 18 organizations contributed to the fundraising round, including Bill Maris’ Section 32, Foresite Capital, Polaris Partners, GV, and the Dementia Discovery Fund.
In October, Alector had received a $225 million endorsement from drugmaker AbbVie that gave it the option to globally develop and commercialize two of Alector’s drug targets.