Ataxion, Inc., a Cambridge, MA-based discovery-stage biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapies for rare, debilitating, and underserved neurologic diseases, secured $17m in Series A financing.
Backers included Atlas Venture and Biogen Idec. In addition to participating in the investment, Biogen Idec is also providing non-dilutive R&D and other funding. It 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.
Co-Founded in April 2013 out of the Atlas Venture seed program by CEO Joshua Resnick, MD, (also a Venture Partner at Atlas Venture), and David Grayzel, MD, Ataxion focuses on orphan genetic disorders termed hereditary ataxias. These diseases are characterized by dysfunction or degeneration of the cerebellum – the brain’s coordination center – and patients with these conditions develop severe difficulties walking, speaking, and performing daily activities. The 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.
In July 2013, Ataxion acquired the ataxia program from Danish biotechnology company Aniona, now renamed Saniona, a leader in ion-channel drug discovery. Saniona is responsible for program discovery activities under the direction of Ataxion Chief Scientific Office Martin Jefson, Ph.D., former head of Neuroscience Research at Pfizer.
In conjunction with the funding, 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 Resnick and Grayzel, Atlas Partner Jean-Francois Formela, MD, Atlas Venture Development Corporation Managing Director and Claus Braestrup, former CEO of Lundbeck Pharmaceuticals and Chairman of Saniona on the company’s Board.