RARE Daily

Atalanta Therapeutics Launches $110 Million to Pioneer RNAi Therapeutics for Neurodegenerative Diseases

January 11, 2021

Rare Daily Staff

Atalanta Therapeutics launched with a $110 million and two strategic collaborations to develop new RNAi therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases.

The money comes from F-Prime Capital and upfront payments from the two partnerships, one with Genentech and and one with Biogen.

Atalanta was founded to address a central limitation for today’s RNAi therapeutics: the difficulty of achieving distribution throughout the brain and spinal cord. Atalanta’s proprietary technology, called branched siRNA, was licensed from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, based on more than 30 years of research there in the field of RNA biology and its clinical applications.

Branched siRNA is a novel oligonucleotide architecture that has shown potent ability to silence gene expression in the central nervous system (CNS) and can be applied across multiple neurodegenerative diseases. Preclinical research published in Nature Biotechnology has shown that branched siRNA can achieve unparalleled distribution in the CNS, including deep brain structures, and prolonged duration of effect.

“Today’s launch of Atalanta Therapeutics marks a hopeful new era for treating neurodegenerative diseases that to date have had few or no existing treatments. Patients, their caregivers, and society more broadly have an urgent need for improved therapies,” said Alicia Secor, president and CEO of Atalanta.

“Atalanta’s branched siRNA platform offers the promise to potentially leverage RNAi approaches within the central nervous system, opening a whole new class of diseases to RNAi intervention. We’re eager to deploy this exciting technology with the end goal of delivering effective new therapies to patients.”

As part of the strategic collaboration with Biogen, Atalanta will develop RNAi therapeutics for multiple targets, including HTT for the treatment of Huntington’s disease, as well as additional unnamed CNS targets. Atalanta will be eligible to receive development and milestone payments on these programs as well as royalty payments on any resulting products.

The strategic collaboration with Genentech entails the development of RNAi therapeutics for multiple CNS targets for neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Atalanta will be eligible to receive development and milestone payments on these programs as well as royalty payments on any resulting products.

“Atalanta’s founders, leadership team and strong preclinical data position it for success,” said Stacie Weninger, president of F-Prime Biomedical Research Initiative (FBRI) and member of the Board of Directors of Atalanta.

Atalanta was founded by UMass Medical School and three of its most prominent faculty research scientists: Anastasia Khvorova, a professor in the RNA Therapeutics Institute with more than 20 years of experience developing oligonucleotide technology and therapeutics, who has played a foundational role in the field of RNAi drug design and development; Craig Mello, the Blais University Chair in Molecular Medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, and a co-recipient of the 2006 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery of RNA interference; and Neil Aronin, professor of medicine and RNA therapeutics and a leader in research into Huntington’s disease for more than three decades.

Photo: Alicia Secor, president and CEO of Atalanta

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