Atalanta Therapeutics Launches With $110 Million to Pioneer RNAi Therapeutics for Neurodegenerative Diseases
- Announces strategic collaborations with Biogen, Genentech to develop RNAi therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases
- Founders are world-leading experts in RNA interference, including Nobel laureate Craig Mello
- Company has assembled a first-class management team of industry veterans helmed by CEO Alicia Secor
BOSTON, Mass. – Jan. 11, 2021 – Atalanta Therapeutics, a biotechnology company pioneering new treatment options for neurodegenerative diseases, launched today with a Series A financing exclusively by F-Prime Capital. Additionally, Atalanta announced strategic collaborations with Biogen (Nasdaq: BIIB) and Genentech, a member of the Roche Group. The total committed funding at launch with the upfront payments from the two partnerships and Series A financing is $110 million.
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 chief executive officer 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. F-Prime is excited to be involved at this early stage of the company,” said Stacie Weninger, Ph.D., president of F-Prime Biomedical Research Initiative (FBRI) and member of the Board of Directors of Atalanta. “I look forward to working collaboratively with Atalanta’s directors and management to advance our shared mission of pioneering new treatment options for intractable neurodegenerative diseases.”
Founders, leadership team and Board of Directors
Atalanta was founded by UMass Medical School and three of its most prominent faculty research scientists: Anastasia Khvorova, Ph.D., 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, Ph.D., 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, M.D., professor of medicine and RNA therapeutics and a leader in research into Huntington’s disease for more than three decades.
The company has also assembled a leadership team of veteran biotechnology experts. Alicia Secor, president and chief executive officer, most recently served as president and chief executive officer of Juniper Pharmaceuticals, a publicly traded company (Nasdaq: JNP) prior to its acquisition by Catalent in 2018. She has held executive roles at Zafgen and Synageva BioPharma, and before that spent 15 years in leadership roles at Genzyme. Aimee L. Jackson, Ph.D., chief scientific officer, has worked in the field of RNA interference and oligonucleotide therapeutics for 18 years, most recently serving as vice president of research for miRagen Therapeutics, where she advanced multiple oligonucleotide therapeutics into clinical trials. Greg Miller, chief business officer, joins Atalanta from Visterra, where as CBO he established numerous collaborations and engineered the acquisition of the company by Otsuka Pharmaceutical for $430 million. Bart Newland, general counsel, joins Atalanta having most recently served as Biogen’s senior vice president and chief IP counsel since 2009. Michele Keough, senior vice president program and alliance management, joins Atalanta after working in leadership capacities at Aura Biosciences, Moderna, and Genzyme.
The company’s Board of Directors is comprised of:
- Michael Berman, chairman of Applied Capital Management;
- Scott Johnson, M.D., CEO of Comanche Biopharma;
- Stephen Knight, M.D., MBA, president and managing director of F-Prime Capital;
- Alicia Secor, MBA, president and CEO of Atalanta Therapeutics;
- Stacie Weninger, Ph.D., president of FBRI at F-Prime Capital; and
- Jessica Alston, Ph.D., (observer), principal at F-Prime Capital.
About Atalanta Therapeutics
Atalanta Therapeutics is a biotechnology company pioneering new treatment options for neurodegenerative diseases by utilizing its proprietary RNA interference platform. Atalanta was founded in 2018 by Anastasia Khvorova, Ph.D., Craig Mello, Ph.D., and Neil Aronin, M.D., of the RNA Therapeutics Institute at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, with a Series A funding exclusively by F-Prime Capital. Atalanta is headquartered in Boston, Mass. For more information, visit www.atalantatx.com and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.
About F-Prime Capital
F-Prime Capital is a global venture capital firm investing in healthcare and technology. For the past 50 years, our independent venture capital group has had the privilege of backing great entrepreneurs building groundbreaking companies. With over two billion dollars under management and a global portfolio of more than 200 companies, we champion those dedicated to creating positive change in the world.
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