The South San Francisco biotech startup, Denali Therapeutics, that had raised $217 million last year to fight Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and ALS, and an additional $130 million from investors in a private placement led by Baillie Gifford, a UK-based mutual fund, has finally spoken about its plans to use the fund. The company is based to discover genes that have been implicated in the diseases mentioned. This project is the one that Denali’s CEO and co-founder, Ryan Watts was working on while at Genentech. The project is related to the LRRK2 gene, which is implicated in Parkinson’s disease. Many companies were working to develop drugs for it, when it was then discovered that those drugs seemed to cause lung problems in animals. Watts is of the opinion that the dosing needs to be adjusted, where the drug would block LRRK2 without causing the lung issues. Apart from this drug compound, Denali is working on others as well. On August 22, 2016, Denali filed an application in Europe to start a clinical trial in healthy volunteers for testing a new drug which is aimed at Alzheimer’s disease and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). The company is also working on drugs focused on the APOE genes. These genes are involved in the cholesterol processing in the human body and, are seen to be a key risk factor for Alzheimer’s. Denali also has a research collaboration with F-Star, a UK-based company, to deliver drugs across the blood-brain barrier that keeps medicines from getting into brain tissue.
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