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A rare inherited form of early-onset dementia that typically strikes people between the ages of 45 and 65 is the focus of a new biotech startup that officially launched Thursday.

Arkuda Therapeutics of Cambridge, Mass., has been incubated by Atlas Venture since February of last year. It has $44 million in venture capital raised by Atlas and the venture capital arm of Pfizer, the pharmaceutical giant.


Arkuda has developed several experimental drugs for the disease, GRN-related frontotemporal dementia (or FTD-GRN). The disease afflicts about 5,000 patients in the United States and causes rapid nerve cell loss in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. That can affect personality, behavior, language, memory, and movement, according to company executives.

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