Satori snags $15M to fuel a trial on Alzheimer's drug

Cambridge, MA-based Satori Pharmaceuticals is banking $15 million in debt financing intended to back a theory that their preclinical program for a beta amyloid 42 peptide pill can eventually be advanced to treat Alzheimer's.

In a statement to FierceBiotech, Satori says that the financing--which brings their total raise to $40 million--will get their program into the clinic in 2013. And they add that the interest in the treatment's potential has already spawned discussions with potential partners. Current investors InterWest Partners, New Enterprise Associates and Prospect Venture Partners put up the added cash.

"It is becoming widely understood among experts in the field that the neurotoxic amyloid beta (Aβ) 42 peptide is a primary bad actor in the onset and progression of AD," said Don Hayden, the newly elected chairman at the biotech. "Satori has demonstrated in a preclinical setting that modulating gamma-secretase has the potential to effectively and selectively lower levels of Aβ42--the main component of amyloid beta plaques. I am particularly drawn to Satori's ambitious goal of developing a safe, oral drug with the potential to slow or stop the progression of the disease."

Satori's executive team has been brimming with confidence that their special take on amyloid beta can succeed where much more ambitious efforts have ended in disaster. They're concentrating on one of two main forms of amyloid beta, Aβ42, believing that their treatment can "reduce the amount of Aβ42 in the brain by modulating gamma-secretase, thus lowering brain amyloid, plaque formation and associated damage to normal neuronal function."

The stakes are certainly high enough. Any treatment that can improve on the weak standard treatments now in use would be quickly snapped up by a huge and growing population of patients, guaranteeing a blockbuster market. But there's never been a solid scientific consensus about the proper target for treating the disease. And the risk of failure in neuroscience has been so extreme big companies like GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) and AstraZeneca ($AZN) have either eliminated efforts or drastically scaled back their work in the field.

- here's the press release