Ataxion, a discovery-stage biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapies for rare, debilitating, and underserved neurologic diseases, has secured Series A financing commitments totaling $17 million from Atlas Venture and Biogen Idec. Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the company’s lead program is focused on a group of orphan genetic disorders termed hereditary ataxias.
Ataxion, Inc, a discovery-stage biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapies for rare, debilitating, and underserved neurologic diseases, has secured Series A financing commitments totaling $17M from Atlas Venture and Biogen Idec.
“The ataxias are a largely-neglected, debilitating set of conditions which severely affect quality and duration of life. Ataxion is excited to be working to bring the first targeted pan-ataxia treatments to this grossly-underserved population”
The company’s lead program is focused on a group of orphan genetic disorders termed hereditary ataxias. These diseases are characterized by dysfunction or degeneration of the cerebellum – the brain’s coordination center. Patients with these conditions develop severe difficulties walking, speaking, and performing daily activities.
“The ataxias are a largely-neglected, debilitating set of conditions which severely affect quality and duration of life. Ataxion is excited to be working to bring the first targeted pan-ataxia treatments to this grossly-underserved population,” said Joshua Resnick, MD, Venture Partner at Atlas Venture and Ataxion Co-Founder and CEO. “We are particularly pleased to be partnering with Biogen Idec on this program. Biogen Idec’s commitment to neuroscience and to developing therapeutics for patients with severe neurologic diseases is unparalleled in the industry.”
The Ataxion drugs being developed for genetic forms of ataxia may also have the potential to treat other forms ataxia, such as those associated with degenerative neurologic disorders including Multiple Sclerosis and Huntington’s Disease.
As part of the Series A financing, Steven Holtzman, Biogen Idec executive vice president of Corporate Development and Kevin Koch, Ph.D., Biogen Idec senior vice president of Research and Development will join Dr. Resnick, Atlas Partner Jean-Francois Formela, MD, Atlas Venture Development Corporation Managing Director and Ataxion Co-Founder David Grayzel, MD, and Claus Braestrup, former CEO of Lundbeck Pharmaceuticals and Chairman of Saniona on the Ataxion Board of Directors.
“Our investment in Ataxion fits perfectly into our mission to bring innovative therapies to people who have severe neurodegenerative diseases and few treatment options,” said Steven Holtzman, executive vice president of Corporate Development at Biogen Idec. “Ataxion’s early research in the area of ataxias is compelling, and we look forward to working with them as this research progresses.”
In addition to participating in the Series A investment, Biogen Idec is providing non-dilutive R&D and other funding to Ataxion. Biogen Idec will have the option to acquire Ataxion to continue development of the program upon completion of the Phase 1 multiple ascending dose (MAD) study at pre-negotiated terms, including upfront and milestone payments.
In July 2013, Ataxion acquired the ataxia program from Danish biotechnology company Aniona, now renamed Saniona, a world leader in ion-channel drug discovery. Saniona is responsible for key program discovery activities under the direction of Ataxion Chief Scientific Office Martin Jefson, Ph.D., former head of Neuroscience Research at Pfizer.
Ataxion is a discovery-stage biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapies for rare, debilitating, and underserved neurologic diseases. Located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Ataxion was founded in April 2013 out of the Atlas Venture seed program by Dr. Josh Resnick and Atlas Venture Development Corporation Managing Director and Ataxion Board Member David Grayzel, MD.
About Atlas Venture
Atlas Venture is a leading early-stage venture capital firm that invests in technology and life sciences companies. Since inception in 1980, Atlas has helped build over 350 companies in more than 16 different countries. Atlas Venture is currently investing from its ninth fund and manages over $2 billion in capital. For more information, please visit: www.atlasventure.com.
About Biogen Idec
Through cutting-edge science and medicine, Biogen Idec discovers, develops and delivers to patients worldwide innovative therapies for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, hemophilia and autoimmune disorders. Founded in 1978, Biogen Idec is the world’s oldest independent biotechnology company. Patients worldwide benefit from its leading multiple sclerosis therapies. For product labeling, press releases and additional information about the Company, please visit www.biogenidec.com.
Saniona is a Scandinavian biotechnology company that aims to capitalize on the immense value potential of drugs targeting ion channels and build novel, first in class therapeutics within CNS, inflammatory/autoimmune diseases and pain. Saniona became operational in September 2012 by the acquisition of a significant portfolio of preclinical and Phase I assets from NeuroSearch. In addition to the collaboration with Ataxion, Saniona has established alliances with Janssen and Pfizer.