Alector Files for IPO to Fund Studies of Alzheimer’s, Dementia Drugs

Xconomy San Francisco — 

Alector, a biotech company focusing on the immune system to treat degenerative brain disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease, has filed to go public to fund human tests of its experimental therapies.

South San Francisco, CA-based Alector set a preliminary $150 million target for its IPO. The company has applied for a listing on the Nasdaq exchange under the stock symbol “ALEC.”

In its prospectus, Alector challenges longstanding theories that point to problem proteins—amyloid beta and tau in Alzheimer’s, alpha-synuclein in Parkinson’s, and TDP-43 in frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)—as the root causes of neurodegeneration. Alector contends that the underlying cause of neurodegeneration is a problem with immune cells in the brain.

Alector focuses on microglia, a type of immune cell that provides nourishment to neurons and “eats” cellular debris and pathological proteins. These cells can deteriorate with age, which in turn diminishes their ability to perform their beneficial and protective role, according to Alector. The company says its drugs target mutated genes linked to neurodegeneration, which could slow or even reverse the deterioration of the brain’s immune cells.

“By restoring healthy immune function in the brain, we believe we can simultaneously counteract the multiple pathologies responsible for neurodegeneration,” the company says in the filing.

Last year, Alector advanced two drugs into early-stage clinical testing. AL001 has been dosed in 42 FTD patients; the company reported no serious side effects or problems that would limit the dose of the drug. The company plans use the IPO proceeds to move on to a Phase 1b study, with data expected in the first half of this year. The second Alector drug, an experimental Alzheimer’s treatment called AL002, started a Phase 1 dose-escalating study in healthy patients.

Alector says the IPO proceeds will also be used to advance two other drugs into human testing: the Alzheimer’s drug AL003 and AL101, which is being assessed as a treatment for multiple neurodegenerative disorders.

The Alector Alzheimer’s drugs, AL002 and AL003, are being developed under a partnership with AbbVie (NYSE: ABBV). Under the agreement, AbbVie paid Alector $205 million up front and made a $20 million equity investment in its partner. Alector could gain up to $985 million more in milestone payments, depending on the progress of the Alzheimer’s drugs. Alector is responsible for Phase 1 and 2 testing. If AbbVie exercises its options on the drugs, the pharmaceutical giant will take over development and commercialization of the treatments, if they are approved for the market.

Alector, which was founded in 2013, has raised more than $210 million in financing, most recently a $133 million Series E round last year. Alector’s largest shareholders include affiliates of OrbiMed, which own 21.4 percent of the company, and affiliates of Polaris Venture Partners, which own 21.7 percent.

Here’s more on Alector and its approach to neurodegenerative diseases.

Image by Flickr user _DJ _ via a Creative Commons license