Artax Biopharma is set to develop its first oral small molecule immunomodulating agent, AX-158, after it closed a $26m financing round.
The company focuses on transforming the treatment of T Cell-mediated pathologies.
New investors, Eli Lilly and Company and Sound Bioventures, took part in the financing round along with existing investors Columbus Venture Partners, Belinda Termeer, Advent Life Sciences, and other company shareholders.
Funds raised from this round will be used for supporting the clinical development of AX-158 in autoimmune diseases, including the key clinical development personnel addition.
The first-in-class, oral small molecule agent employs a mechanism of action that selectively modulates inappropriate T cell activation, a cause of autoimmune disease.
Furthermore, AX-158 can treat T Cell-mediated diseases without the risk of immunosuppression.
It is a Nck SH3.1 domain inhibitor that selectively counteracts the role of Nck protein in T Cells.
In an ongoing Phase I clinical trial, Artax is evaluating AX-158’s exposure, safety and pharmacokinetics in healthy volunteers.
AX-158 demonstrated potential to treat T Cell-mediated diseases in preclinical studies, by decreasing key cytokines including INFγ, TNFα, IL-2, IL-1 and IL-6 in blood samples of human beings.
Artax Biopharma CEO Joseph Lobacki said: “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.”
Sound Bioventures managing partner Casper Breum will join the Artax board of directors.