New Haven-based biotech company advances innovative treatments for neurological injuries and diseases
Connecticut Innovations (CI), the state’s quasi-public authority responsible for technology investing and innovation development, today announced that it has made a $400,000 follow-on investment in Axerion Therapeutics Inc. (Axerion) of New Haven, Connecticut, through its Eli Whitney Fund. Utilizing two technology platforms licensed from Yale University, Axerion is developing innovative approaches to the treatment of neurological injuries and diseases.
“CI’s follow-on investment in Axerion will help allow our company to bring forward effective treatments in spinal cord injury and Alzheimer’s disease,” said Sylvia McBrinn, Axerion’s president and chief executive officer. “These funds provide us with the necessary capital to advance our programs to the next step in the development process.”
Axerion’s prion protein (PrP) project is a novel potential therapeutic approach for patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Axerion is developing both a biologic and a small-molecule approach to block the binding of amyloid beta oligomers (clumps of a-beta peptides) to PrP in the brain, thereby preventing a cascade of events that result in brain dysfunction. Axerion’s technology, if successful, could help slow or halt cognitive decline in Alzheimer’s patients.
With its Nogo receptor platform, Axerion is developing treatments that have the potential to stimulate regrowth in axons, which are long cellular fibers that electrically connect one nerve cell to another and play a vital role in supporting neurological function. These potential treatments could help to restore function in patients who are suffering from spinal cord injuries, stroke and other central nervous system disorders.
The combined annual societal cost of spinal cord injuries, stroke and Alzheimer’s disease in the United States alone is a staggering $228 billion.
“Axerion’s progress since our first investment in the company a year and a half ago has been extremely impressive,” said Peter Longo, president and executive director of Connecticut Innovations. “The company’s two technology platforms continue to draw interest and have the potential to lead to multiple products to help patients afflicted with a broad range of neurological conditions.”
Axerion was founded in 2009 by Scheer & Company, Dr. Stephen Strittmatter of the Yale faculty, Sylvia McBrinn and Yale University. New Haven-based Scheer & Company, which has been active in managing Axerion’s startup operations, was also involved in the founding of numerous successful biotechnology companies, including Viropharma, Orapharma, Esperion, Achillion, Sopherion, Aegerion, Tengion and Optherion.
CI previously invested $600,000 in Axerion. David Wurzer, CI managing director, investments, will continue to represent CI on Axerion’s board of directors.
About Connecticut Innovations Inc. Connecticut Innovations (CI) is a quasi-public organization dedicated to driving a vibrant, entrepreneurial, technology-based economy in Connecticut. CI stimulates high-tech growth by investing in early-stage Connecticut technology companies, university/industry research collaborations and technology transfer and collaborating with government, business, nonprofit and academic organizations to advance technology growth and promote public policies consistent with CI’s mission. Additionally, CI supports clean energy and energy efficiency initiatives through its administration of the Clean Energy Finance and Investment Authority. For more information on CI, please visit www.ctinnovations.com.
About Axerion Therapeutics Inc. Axerion Therapeutics Inc. is a private Connecticut-based biotechnology company focused on developing innovative therapeutics for neurological diseases and injuries with significant unmet medical need, including Alzheimer’s disease and spinal cord injury. Axerion was established in New Haven to develop and commercialize intellectual property licensed from Dr. Stephen Strittmatter’s laboratory at Yale University. Axerion’s proprietary technology platforms include blockers of a-beta oligomer binding to prion proteins (PrP) on the cell surface of neurons as a novel therapeutic target for Alzheimer’s disease and Nogo decoy receptor protein for recovery of neurological function in spinal cord injury and other neurological diseases. For more information on Axerion, please visit www.axeriontherapeutics.com
Contacts: Emily Smith
Managing Director, External Relations
Phone: (860) 257-2337
On behalf of Connecticut Innovations
Phone: (860) 839-1589