Welcome to Part 2 of a new three-part video series from GEN Edge entitled FRONT ROW, hosted by contributing editor Malorye Branca, which takes us to the frontlines of research in a key area of biomedicine, talking to newsmakers and thought leaders about their research and the current challenges facing their field.
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In Part 2 of this series on Breakthroughs in Alzheimer’s disease research—“Pioneering Gene Therapy”—Branca interviews R. Nolan Townsend, the CEO of LEXEO Therapeutics, a biotech company founded by gene therapy pioneer Ron Crystal. Townsend joined LEXEO Therapeutics as CEO in January 2020, having previously served as President of Pfizer Rare Disease. He has a strong financial background, previously working in the healthcare investment banking group at Lehman Brothers.
At LEXEO, Townsend is leading a multi-pronged gene therapy pipeline tackling several neurodegenerative diseases, including Batten disease, Friedreich’s ataxia, and Alzheimer’s disease. The approach to treating Alzheimer’s is a fascinating one, targeting apolipoprotein E (APOE), which serves as the major transporter of cholesterol in the brain. Variants in this gene on chromosome 19, specifically APOE4, are strongly associated with increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease. LEXEO is developing an AAV-mediated gene therapy treatment that delivers APOE2 to the patient’s central nervous system.
In this interview, Townsend shares the rationale and progress that his company is making in this quest to develop a therapeutic breakthrough for Alzheimer’s disease.