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Denali Therapeutics Raises $248M Marking Largest IPO of the Year

One of the last IPOs of 2017 is San-Francisco-based Denali Therapeutics. It has now raised more than $248 million in its stock market debut, marking the largest biotech IPO of the year.

Founded in 2015, Denali completed an initial public offering last week that raised $250 million, based on the work it does developing therapies for neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Denali is one of the rare companies that was able reach ‘unicorn’ status at breakneck speed. The biotech company reached a $1 billion valuation in just 390 days and was dubbed a unicorn not long after. It earned the title faster than any company in history, including Facebook (which took 396 days).

Denali was founded by former Genentech executives Marc Tessier-Lavigne and Ryan Watts. Tessier-Lavigne, Denali’s chairman and the current president of Stanford University, had previously worked as Genentech’s chief scientific officer. Watts, Denali’s CEO, brings to the position his experience as Genentech’s former director of neuroscience. Alexander Schuth is Denali’s third co-founder and its chief operating officer. At Genentech, he was head of neuroscience partnering.

In addition to the size of the stock offering, Denali’s IPO is notable for another reason: the company does not yet have clinical data for any of its drugs. Denali’s most advanced compound, Parkinson’s disease drug candidate DNL201, is in Phase 1 studies. The company’s prospectus says IPO proceeds will finance more clinical research on that drug, as well as the start of clinical trials for a second Parkinson’s compound, DNL151. Denali expects to spend up to $25 million on both Parkinson’s compounds.

Another Denali compound, DNL747, is being readied for early-stage clinical trials in both Alzheimer’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease.