Artax Biopharma Closes Financing to Advance Clinical-Stage, First-in-Class Oral Immunomodulator to Treat T Cell-Mediated Diseases
Artax Biopharma, Inc. recently announced the close of a $26-million financing round to develop AX-158, the company’s first oral small molecule immunomodulating agent. New investors, Eli Lilly and Company and Sound Bioventures, participated alongside existing investors Advent Life Sciences, Columbus Venture Partners, Belinda Termeer and other company shareholders.
Artax will use these funds to support the clinical development of AX-158 in autoimmune diseases, including the addition of key clinical development personnel. AX-158 employs a first-in-class mechanism of action that selectively modulates inappropriate T cell activation, a cause of autoimmune disease. AX-158 has the potential to treat T Cell-mediated diseases without the risk of immunosuppression. Artax’s ongoing Phase 1 clinical trial is assessing the safety, exposure, and pharmacokinetics of AX-158 in healthy volunteers and includes ex vivo stimulated measures of its pharmacodynamic activity. In preclinical studies, AX-158 demonstrated potential to treat T Cell-mediated diseases by decreasing key cytokines including INFγ, TNFα, IL-2, IL-1 and IL-6 in whole human blood samples.
“We are pleased to welcome Lilly and Sound Bioventures as new investors as we continue to develop our unique immunomodulating agent for patients with T Cell-driven conditions, including autoimmune diseases. We believe AX-158’s immunomodulating effect has the potential to make a transformative difference for patients living with T Cell-driven conditions, without impacting healthy immune system function,” said Joseph Lobacki, Chief Executive Officer of Artax Biopharma.
“We are also excited to welcome Casper Breum, Managing Partner of Sound Bioventures, who will join the Artax Board of Directors,” said Mr. Lobacki. “Mr. Breum’s experience will be a valuable asset to guide the Company’s strategy.”
A healthy immune system eliminates harmful foreign pathogens, while being tolerant of self-tissues and organs. The T Cell Receptor (TCR) is central to healthy T Cell function and a well-functioning immune system. When TCR signaling becomes dysregulated, T Cells behave abnormally. This behavior results in T Cell-driven conditions, including autoimmune diseases, T Cell malignancies (lymphomas), and induced T Cell pathologies in which medical treatments result in immune reactions (such as stem cell transplants resulting in acute graft-versus-host-disease or immuno-oncology treatments resulting in immune related-adverse events).
Artax believes immunomodulation – a mechanism through which our investigational agents assist in rebalancing the immune system and eliminating a cause of T Cell-mediated diseases, while not impacting patients’ ability to effectively fight foreign pathogens – holds great potential.
AX-158 is a first-in-class, oral small molecule immunomodulating agent in clinical development for the treatment of T Cell-mediated diseases. AX-158 employs a novel mechanism of action that selectively modulates, or adjusts, T Cell responses that play a critical role in immune system function. AX-158 is a Nck SH3.1 domain inhibitor which selectively counteracts the role of Nck in T Cells. Nck is a protein that naturally amplifies T Cell signaling directly at the TCR, contributing to T Cell mediated disease. This process of immunomodulation assists the immune system to maintain healthy control and eliminates a direct contributor to T Cell-mediated diseases. Importantly, Artax believes that preclinical data suggests AX-158 will not be immunosuppressive and so will not impact the immune system’s ability to mount a strong response to foreign pathogens and infections.
Artax Biopharma is a clinical-stage biotechnology company transforming T Cell-mediated disease treatment by developing innovative small molecules that modulate the immune system. Artax science holds broad potential to treat T Cell-mediated diseases such as autoimmune diseases; induced T cell pathologies (such as acute graft-versus-host disease and immune-oncology treatment-related adverse events); and T Cell malignancies, while simultaneously allowing the body to fight foreign pathogens. For more information, visit www.artaxbiopharma.com.
About Sound Bioventures
Sound Bioventures is a biotherapeutics focused venture fund, with a strong foundation in the Nordic biotech ecosystem, that invests in clinical stage companies in EU, UK and USA. The fund invests in projects addressing significant unmet medical needs having the potential for a profound impact on human health and healthcare systems. Sound Bioventures was founded by a team of experienced life science investors and is backed by a strong investor syndicate comprising Novo Holdings, Saminvest, Vaekstfonden, the European Investment Fund, Ramsbury Invest and the founders. Sound Bioventures Fund I AB is a registered alternative investment fund, under the Swedish Alternative Investment Funds Managers Act. For more information, please visit: www.soundbioventures.com
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