Atlas-incubated Rodin sculpts out $27M for neurological work

Upstart Rodin Therapeutics has gained $27 million as it plots clinical work on a new Alzheimer’s candidate next year.

The Cambridge, MA-based biotech gained the cash boost from a who’s who of VC arms, including Atlas Venture, Google’s venture unit GV, Hatteras Venture Partners, Remeditex Ventures and Third Point Ventures.

The eight-staffer-strong preclinical company is working on early-stage therapeutics to boost synaptic resilience and plans to enter the clinic in 2018 with an Alzheimer’s candidate—a brave decision, given the distinct lack of progress for Big Pharmas and biotechs in this area over the past decade.

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In Alzheimer's disease, memory is believed to decline because synapses and neurons become dysfunctional and die. In fact, loss of synapses is a strong predictor of dementia in people with Alzheimer's disease.

The predominant theories in Alzheimer’s research center around tau and amyloid, proteins that can clump together and cause plaques, which accumulate all over the brain, and the tau protein that forms into neurofibrillary tangles.

To date, however, biopharma R&D has not been able to drug for these targets successfully, although some companies are still trying.

Rodin’s CEO Adam Rosenberg is hoping for a better story, and tells FierceBiotech: “We believe that our novel translational strategy will enable us to generate directional proof of principle data in early clinical studies, that will help inform later-stage studies. Ultimately, our strategy is not dependent on the underlying protein pathology, yet we believe it will result in sustained patient improvement.”

Rodin’s Big Idea is based on research showing that synaptic loss and dysfunction is a primary pathology in Alzheimer’s, as well as other neurological and neuropsychiatric diseases including Parkinson’s disease, Huntington’s disease, schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder.

It’s developing a set of brain-penetrant small molecule drugs designed to boost pathways that play a key role in synaptic function, all the while attempting to lower key safety concerns.

RELATED: Biogen backs Rodin's Alzheimer's efforts in a $500M deal

“Rodin is making incredible strides in realizing a transformative approach to neurological diseases that will allow us to potentially address diverse areas of unmet need and drastically impact the care of patients,” said board chairman Bruce Booth, Ph.D., a partner at Atlas Venture, which co-founded, seeded and incubated Rodin.

“Rodin’s approach to boosting synaptic resilience has significant potential to benefit patients living with neurodegenerative diseases, as well as neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia and post-traumatic stress disorder,” said Ben Robbins, M.D., a venture partner at GV and board observer at Rodin. “We’re excited to partner with this world class team.”