Denali Therapeutics

Conquering neurodegenerative diseases.

Denali is a biotech company focusing on ‘degenogenes’ – genes that, when they mutate, cause neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease.

Why do we own it?

Denali is attempting what many pharmaceutical giants have tried and failed – to find a cure or treatment for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Recent advances in genetics, pathology and cell biology mean that scientists are uncovering what founder Ryan Watts labels ‘degenogenes’ – genes that cause neurodegeneration when they mutate. This understanding is helping Denali develop a basis for a new generation of disease-modifying medicines that can effectively treat neurodegenerative diseases.

The lack of historical success in treating diseases of the brain lies in the drug delivery challenges presented by the blood-brain barrier (BBB). The human brain contains approximately 400 miles of blood vessels, and the BBB is the network of cells around these blood vessels that keep toxins out. Delivering therapeutics around the BBB has been a significant obstacle to successful drug development, but Denali is working on a way of getting molecules across this barrier. Succeeding in this would give it a massive edge in fighting neurodegenerative diseases.

Who is key?

Denali takes its name from the highest peak in North America. CEO Ryan Watts chose the Alaskan mountain’s name to represent a different kind of conquest: “Defeating degeneration – to us – is akin to summitting the tallest mountain … for me [Denali] means an inspiring challenge.”


First bought

in December 2017.

Its technology attempts to improve the penetration of the blood-brain barrier, which is the ‘network’ of cells around the brain's blood vessels that keep foreign substances, including medicine, out. 


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Computer generated render of nerves forming the structure of a brain with a bright light in the centre.

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