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From the outset, Perlara was a different kind of biotech startup.

The South San Francisco biotech company was founded in 2014 to focus on discovering drugs to treat rare diseases. It won backing from the startup accelerator Y Combinator, a handful of seed-stage investors, and the venture capital firm of Mark Cuban, the billionaire of Shark Tank fame.

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What made the company unusual were its partnerships: Perlara teamed up with rare-disease focused patient advocacy groups that committed funding in the tranches to the company’s research projects, which were designed to produce a drug candidate ready for clinical trials.

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