Tech Transfer eNews Blog

Washington State U start-up develops potentially groundbreaking Alzheimer’s drug


By Jesse Schwartz
Published: September 30th, 2020

A start-up from Washington State University (WSU) is advancing a potentially groundbreaking treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Founded by WSU researchers Joe Harding and Jay Wright, Athira Pharma has developed a compound based on an analog of an angiotensin IV, a degradation product of a protein hormone typically associated with managing blood pressure and fluid levels in the body. The researchers found that this product bound to structures within the brain’s hippocampus associated with memory and cognition.

Athira believes its compound can reverse the effects of dementia by stimulating the production of new nerve cells and enabling damaged nerve cells to replace connections lost during the disease process.

Harding and Wright raised more than $200 million in an initial public stock offering. They plan to use the funds to help pay for the continuing research and development for therapies for Alzheimer’s, dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases.

“We’re hoping that this will be a game changer,” says Harding. “It’s a life’s work. And it is not only me and Jay — it took teams of people, graduate and undergraduate students as well as post-docs and veterinary medical students to make this happen. We will celebrate when the first person successfully treated for dementia or Alzheimer’s doesn’t have to go into a nursing home.”

Source: WSU Insider

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