Watertown, Mass. — Arkuda Therapeutics, a biotechnology company applying novel insights at the intersection of lysosomal biology and neuronal health to develop medicines that change the trajectory of neurodegenerative disease, announced Arkuda co-founder and previous Senior Vice President, Head of Discovery, Duane Burnett, PhD, has been appointed Chief Technology Officer, and Raymond Hurst, PhD, has been promoted to Senior Vice President, Head of Discovery. In addition, Irena Webster, MPH, MA, has joined as Vice President, Program Strategy and Development Operations to guide clinical development as the company prepares to advance its lead compound to the clinic early next year.
“There has been a great deal of recent progress in the understanding and treatment of neurodegenerative disease. It’s an exciting time also for Arkuda as we enhance our leadership team and work to advance ARKD-104 into clinical trials,” said Gerhard Koenig, PhD, Co-Founder, President, and CEO of Arkuda Therapeutics. “We’ve been fortunate to have Duane Burnett as a co-founder. Duane will now transition to the role of Chief Technology Officer and continue to work very closely with the R&D team, with Raymond Hurst leading drug discovery. Irena Webster, who joins with more than 20 years of experience in drug development, together with our CMO, Serena Hung, will ensure Arkuda is clinic-ready the first half of next year.”
Before founding Arkuda in 2018, Dr. Burnett served in roles at top pharmaceutical companies, developing drugs for cardiometabolic and CNS disorders. He has 60 published papers and more than 110 granted or published patents and applications, and is best known as an inventor of the cholesterol absorption inhibitor ezetimibe, used in two highly successful, multi-billion dollar products for treating hypercholesterolemia.
Dr. Hurst has more than 20 years of CNS drug discovery experience spanning small, mid and large-sized biopharmaceutical companies. He has served as VP of Pharmacology at Arkuda since 2020.
“We are excited to welcome Irena to Arkuda’s management team as we prepare to enter the clinic,” said Serena Hung, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Arkuda Therapeutics. “Her expertise in neurology, rare diseases and clinical development will be key to position our lead program for success in treating the lysosomal dysfunction underlying a range of neurodegenerative diseases.”
Ms. Webster brings more than 20 years of experience in clinical development operations and project management at Forma Therapeutics, Sage Therapeutics, and Alkermes. She has worked across therapeutic areas including neurology, psychiatry, oncology, cardiovascular, and rare disease providing oversight of global clinical trials. Ms. Webster joins as Arkuda works to advance its lead candidate ARKD-104, a first-in-class small molecule progranlin enhancer, into clinical trials for the treatment of GRN-related frontotemporal dementia (FTD-GRN).
ARKD-104 is a therapy designed to increase progranlin production and restore lysosomal function in neurodegenerative disease. In people living with FTD-GRN and neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease, decline of progranulin has been shown to impact lysosomal function, leading to further cognitive decline.
About Arkuda Therapeutics
Arkuda Therapeutics is a biotechnology company applying insights into lysosomal biology to drive the development of medicines to change the trajectory of neurodegenerative disease. Arkuda’s lead program ARKD-104 aims to correct progranulin deficiency and lysosomal dysfunction in patients with GRN-related frontotemporal dementia (FTD-GRN), a genetically-defined subtype of frontotemporal dementia caused by an autosomal dominant mutation in the progranulin (GRN) gene. The company is further exploring the therapeutic potential of its molecules in other neurodegenerative diseases where genetic links to dysfunction in progranulin biology have been established, including Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s Disease. Arkuda is backed by leading investors including Atlas Venture, Cormorant Asset Management, Pfizer Ventures, funds managed by Tekla Capital Management LLC, Mission BioCapital, and Eli Lilly and Company. To learn more visit www.arkudatx.com.