AltPep, a Seattle-based biotech startup tackling amyloid protein disorders, has raised $23.1 million in a Series A funding round.
The venture spun out the University of Washington in March 2019. Its founder and CEO is Valerie Daggett, a longtime professor in the Department of Bioengineering in the College of Engineering.
AltPep is developing tools and treatments for diseases caused by amyloid proteins that are incorrectly folded and create harmful deposits. These deposits can lead to numerous amyloid diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, type-2 diabetes, some kinds of drug-resistant bacterial infections, and dozens more.
Researchers in Daggett’s lab used computer modeling to discover the role played by alpha-sheets, a structure formed by proteins, in creating the deposits, and this research is the underpinning of AltPep’s technology. The UW has licensed the exclusive rights of this intellectual property to the startup.
AltPep is currently focused on Alzheimer’s and developing tools that can detect the illness even before someone is symptomatic. The company is also working on technology to treat the neurological disease. At present there are only treatments to address Alzheimer’s symptoms, but no therapeutic cures, according to AltPep.
“This funding will allow us to build upon our promising preliminary data demonstrating detection of Alzheimer’s disease at its earliest stages and further our preclinical therapeutic program,” Daggett said in a statement.
Before COVID-19, AltPep was housed at the UW’s CoMotion Labs incubator space in Fluke Hall. The startup was ramping up in February and hired two full-time lab technicians — only to have work come to a halt with the pandemic. Even as the lab was able to restart, their space was too small to safely accommodate more than one person working at a time.
The company is now prepping to open a 7,500 square foot lab in Seattle’s Northlake neighborhood, at the north end of Lake Union. Daggett said the company is hiring and eager to dramatically increase the employee count.
AltPep leadership includes Patrik Edenholm, chief operating officer; Chuck Horne, chief financial officer; and Kurt Becker, vice president of business development and legal.
AltPep’s three current board members — Daggett; Chad Robins, CEO of Adaptive Biotechnologies; and Todd Patrick, CEO of Armata Pharmaceuticals — are being joined by David Goel of Matrix Capital Management and Joel Marcus of Alexandria Real Estate Equities/Alexandria Venture Investments. Matrix Capital Management led the recent investment round with participation by Alexandria Venture Investments.
Another Seattle-area biotech startup, Athira Pharma, is also developing treatments for Alzheimer’s. Athira went public last year.