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 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
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
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 Chaiman 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
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.
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