Arkuda Reels in Another $64M to Disrupt Neurodegenerative Disease Treatment

Boston Financial District

On Thursday, Arkuda Therapeutics announced it had secured $64 million in Series B financing. This adds to the $44 million Series A the company achieved in November 2019.

The latest round was co-led by Cormorant Asset Management and Pivotal bioVenture Partners with participation from Surveyor Capital (a Citadel company) and Eli Lilly and Company, as well as prior investors Atlas Venture, Pfizer Ventures, Tekla Capital Management LLC and Mission BioCapital.

Arkuda seeks to disrupt the usual progression of neurodegenerative disease with medicines developed by applying cutting-edge knowledge from the domains of lysosomal and microglial biology. The company is developing therapeutic compounds that treat neurodegenerative diseases in which genetically linked biological dysfunction of a key protein called progranulin plays a central role.

Gerhard Koenig, Ph.D., Arkuda’s co-founder, president and CEO, wants to offer patients more treatment options for neurodegenerative diseases.

"This Series B funding marks a critical milestone as we advance our first-in-class lead progranulin enhancer program to IND-enabling studies and expand our pipeline of programs targeting lysosomal dysfunction, which is a key driver of many neurodegenerative diseases," said Koenig. "The patients we aspire to serve are in great need of therapeutic options, and this financing will enable us to accelerate our efforts to turn the promise of our emerging understanding of lysosomal biology into effective medicines with the potential to positively impact the trajectory of their disease."

Progranulin plays an important function in lysosomal function and innate immunity in the brain, and neurodegenerative disease can result from its absence. For example, progranulin deficiencies have been identified as an underlying factor in GRN-related frontotemporal dementia. The deficiency is caused by an autosomal dominant mutation in the GRN gene that codes for the protein. Arkuda’s program treats this disease by directing specially-designed molecular compounds at the proprietary molecular target that modulates progranulin. Thereby the program aims to correct for the genetically determined imbalance.

Raymond J. Kelleher, M.D., Ph.D., managing director at Cormorant and newly appointed member of the Arkuda Board of Directors, applauded the company’s goal to apply this therapy more broadly to other neurodegenerative diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease and Parkinson's disease.

“We are excited to support Arkuda in their pathbreaking work to address progranulin deficiency and lysosomal dysfunction, which is increasingly recognized as [a] key driver of neurodegeneration," said Kelleher.

His fellow Arkuda board member, Heather Preston, M.D., a managing partner at Pivotal bioVenture Partners, added, "The company's novel platform, innovative science, and seasoned leadership team with deep experience in CNS drug development give us confidence that Arkuda has the potential to impact devastating neurologic diseases that currently lack any effective treatments."

Bruce Booth, chairman of Arkuda’s board, expressed his enthusiasm and high regard for the joint venture, saying, "We look forward to partnering with the teams from Cormorant and Pivotal, along with all our new and existing investors as we build Arkuda into a leading precision neuroscience company focused on progranulin and lysosomal biology." 

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