By Ron Leuty – Reporter, San Francisco Business Times
Jan 7, 2019, 5:18pm EST
Read original online article at SF Business Times
A South San Francisco company tapping the brain’s immune system to treat Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative conditions said Monday that it wants to raise $150 million in an initial public offering.
Alector Inc., which has nearly 100 employees and last year closed a $225 million deal with AbbVie Inc. (NYSE: ABBV), would trade on the NASDAQ with the trading symbol “ALEC.”
The company was started five years ago by CEO Arnon Rosenthal. Rosenthal previously worked at Genentech Inc. and launched Rinat Neuroscience before it was bought by Pfizer Inc. (NYSE: PFE) in 2006.
Like cancer immunotherapy companies, Alector sees power in stimulating, multiplying, moving and directing the immune system to tackle Alzheimer’s, frontotemporal dementia and other neurological diseases. But its work isn’t limited to working with a certain type of brain cell, called microglia, that is the first line of defense for the immune system against cellular invaders; the company’s work also could be applied to cancer, Rosenthal and Chief Business Officer Sabah Oney told the San Francisco Business Times last year.
But Alector’s main focus is on neurology, Rosenthal and Oney said.
The company has raised close to $300 million from GV, OrbiMed, Polaris Partners, Topspin Partners, Mission Bay Capital, AbbVie, Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals and others.
“We made a big bet that this was the direction” of Alzheimer’s research, Rosenthal said. “When we started five years ago, it was not clear.”
The emergence of neurodegeneration drug companies such as Alector and South San Francisco’s Denali Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: DNLI) and Cortexyme Inc. comes after decades of disappointments in the Alzheimer’s field from companies targeting tangles of amyloid and tau proteins in the brain.
Alector in November started an early-stage clinical trial of AL-002, a drug that is partnered with AbbVie and targets a triggering receptor on cells that have a genetic link to Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders. The trial is aimed at Alzheimer’s.
In September, it started a Phase I study in a subpopulation of patients with a mutation thought to play a role in frontotemporal dementia.