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30 May, 2022 - 11:48 By Tony Quested

PharmEnable and Denali fast-track drugs for neurodegenerative diseases

A Cambridge-California collaboration unveiled today promises to accelerate drug discovery in neurodegenerative disease.

Cambridge UK startup PharmEnable is working on the multi-target collaboration with Denali Therapeutics – a publicly traded company based in Silicon Valley. 

The strategic alliance includes joint research programmes against multiple undisclosed targets to be initiated over the next two years. PharmEnable will receive an undisclosed upfront cash payment plus potential milestones.

PharmEnable is an AI drug-discovery company mapping unexplored chemical space to deliver innovative medicines; South San Francisco partner Denali Therapeutics is a biopharmaceutical company developing a broad portfolio of product candidates engineered to cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB) for neurodegenerative diseases.  

PharmEnable will leverage its proprietary AI drug discovery platform with Denali’s expertise in delivery across the BBB and neurodegeneration to identify therapeutically relevant small molecule chemical matter against challenging targets. 

Denali will be responsible for the further lead optimisation, development, and commercialisation of these molecules. 

Dr Hannah Sore, CEO and founder of PharmEnable, said: “We are delighted to partner with Denali Therapeutics, a company with a rigorous scientific approach and a commitment to innovation in neurodegenerative disorders. Our respective teams’ scientific and technical expertise is highly complementary, making it possible to accelerate drug discovery and bringing significant impact to patients with neurodegenerative disease.” 

Dr Alexander Schuth, chief operating and financial officer of Denali, added: “We are excited to collaborate with PharmEnable and leverage their cutting-edge AI methods with the goal of unlocking novel chemical matter in this challenging disease area.”

PharmEnable’s proprietary drug discovery platform provides a powerful engine for generating novel chemical entities against a challenging target. It models targets to identify their key molecular interactions and maps and expands the novel chemical space that can modulate a specific target. 

Advanced medicinal chemistry expertise guides the development of synthesisable, complex and 3-dimensional small molecules, increasing specificity and reducing off-target effects.

The vision is to reproduce the specificity of biologics in the powerful and scalable form of a small molecule.

PharmEnable’s mission is to deliver life-changing medicines and the team works across a range of disease areas where drug specificity is a significant challenge – such as cancer and neurological disease. 

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