– USA, MA – Artax Biopharma, a clinical stage biotechnology company developing first-in-class highly selective oral therapies for the treatment of autoimmune diseases, has secured a $10M Series B round of funding. The financing was led by Henri Termeer, former CEO of Genzyme, and Advent Life Sciences; with participation from A.M. Pappas and existing investors. In conjunction with the financing, Henri Termeer and Raj Parekh, General Partner at Advent Life Sciences, will join Artax’s Board of Directors.
Artax’s lead compound, AX-024, is a highly selective immunomodulator of T-cell Receptor (TCR) signaling in autoimmune T-cells. The new funding will be used to advance AX-024 through Phase Ib and IIa clinical trials for the treatment of autoimmune diseases, and to further develop selective Nck inhibitors in partnership with Dr. Balbino Alarcon. Dr. Alarcon’s lab discovered Nck’s role in T-cell activation at the Spanish National Council (CSIC). Nck is a member of the SH2/SH3 family of cytoplasmic adapter proteins involved in transducing signals from receptor tyrosine kinases to downstream effectors, which play a key role in T-cell activation.
“The selective inhibition of Nck is an area of tremendous therapeutic potential for treating autoimmune diseases and one where Artax leads the world’s research efforts. As our AX-024 program advances in the clinic, we continue developing additional Nck-specific compounds,” said Damia Tormo, founder and CEO of Artax Biopharma. “We are thrilled with the confidence the new investors have in Artax and its technology. They will help us realize the full potential of our products and enable us to bring them to patients in need.”
“Artax is pursuing breakthrough science: a targeted immunomodulatory approach for autoimmune diseases that does not compromise the protective function of T-cells to external threats,” said Henri Termeer. “Artax has the potential to treat a range of autoimmune conditions in which current therapies are not optimal and may result in serious side effects.”
“Artax’s compounds could have clinical utility in virtually any pathogenic T-cell mediated diseases,” said Raj Parekh, General Partner at Advent Life Sciences. “We are excited about the potential of this novel science and its broad clinical applications.”
Clinical Phase 1 Study: Excellent Safety and PK/PD Profile
In Phase I studies, orally dosed AX-024 was well tolerated in healthy volunteers even at very high doses. Experiments carried out ex vivo showed that treatment with AX-024 in humans has a significant immunomodulatory effect on T-cells, with dose-dependent behavior, measured either by inhibition of T-cell proliferation or by Th17, Th2 and Th1 cell cytokine secretion. Artax has validated the target and mechanism of action, and demonstrated preclinical proof of concept of AX-024 in various preclinical autoimmune disease (MS, Psoriasis, IBD, Type I diabetes) and GVHD models.
About Artax Biopharma
Artax Biopharma is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company developing breakthrough therapies for autoimmune diseases. Its pipeline of drugs is based on novel science that targets the interaction between T-cell receptors (TCR) and Nck, a key protein involved in T-cell activation. Artax Biopharma is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
About Advent Life Sciences
Advent Life Sciences is one of Europe’s leading venture teams investing in life sciences businesses in the UK, Europe and US. The team consists of professionals with extensive scientific, medical and operational experience, and a long-standing track record of entrepreneurial and investment success across the UK, Europe and the US. The firm invests in a range of sectors within life sciences, principally in new drug discovery, enabling technologies and med tech. Realizations in the last three years include Algeta, Avila, CN Creative, EUSA and Micromet. Current investments include Acutus, Aura Biosciences, Biocartis, Cellnovo, f2G, GMP-Orphan, NeRRe, and Versartis.
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