Disarm Therapeutics Unveils Breakthrough Approach to Treat Patients with Neurological Diseases by Preventing Axonal Degeneration
Announces $30 Million Series A Financing
Cambridge, Mass. – September 19, 2017 – Disarm Therapeutics, a new biotechnology company developing therapeutics to treat patients with neurological diseases by preventing axonal degeneration, today announced the completion of a $30 million Series A financing. The round was led by Atlas Venture, with co-investors Lightstone Ventures and AbbVie Ventures. Disarm was co-founded, seeded, and incubated in 2016 by Atlas Venture, together with Dr. Jeffrey Milbrandt and Dr. Aaron DiAntonio of Washington University in St. Louis.
Axonal degeneration causes disability and disease progression in a broad range of chronic and acute diseases of the central, ocular, and peripheral nervous systems. Disarm is developing therapeutics to inhibit the SARM1 protein, recently identified by Disarm’s scientific founders as the central driver of axonal degeneration. Based on this discovery, Disarm is pioneering a breakthrough treatment approach for patients with neurological diseases.
“Solving the puzzle of axonal degeneration has challenged scientists and physicians for more than a century,” said Jason Rhodes, partner at Atlas Venture, and co-founder, chairman, and acting CEO of Disarm Therapeutics. “Now, for the first time, we have a therapeutic approach to directly prevent the loss of axons in patients with diseases including multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, glaucoma, and peripheral neuropathies.”
“In our recent Neuron publication, we demonstrated that SARM1 itself is the central driver of axonal degeneration,” said Jeffrey Milbrandt, M.D., Ph.D., and Aaron DiAntonio, M.D., Ph.D. of Washington University and co-founders of Disarm Therapeutics. “Importantly, we found that SARM1 possesses an intrinsic enzymatic activity that can be targeted by novel therapeutics.”
“Using our proprietary product engine, the Disarm team has discovered novel, potent SARM1 inhibitors,” said Rajesh Devraj, Ph.D., co-founder and CSO of Disarm Therapeutics. “We plan to translate these potential therapeutics to human proof of concept in a range of neurological diseases, supported by non-invasive biomarkers.”
Founders, Advisors, and Board
Disarm’s Scientific Advisory Board includes leaders in the fields of neuroscience, neurology, drug discovery, and product development:
- Jeffrey Milbrandt, M.D., Ph.D. – Chair, Department of Genetics, Professor of Genetics, Pathology and Immunology, Medicine, and Neurology, Washington University; Disarm co-founder and SAB co-chair
- Aaron DiAntonio, M.D., Ph.D. – Professor of Developmental Biology, Washington University; Disarm co-founder and SAB co-chair
- Peter Calabresi, M.D. – Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience, Director of the Multiple Sclerosis Center, and Director, Division of Neuroimmunology and Neurological Infections, Johns Hopkins University
- Robert Copeland, Ph.D. – President, CSO, and co-founder, Accent Therapeutics
- Gerhard Koenig, Ph.D. – President and CEO, Quartet Medicine
- Alfred Sandrock, M.D., Ph.D. – Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer, Biogen
- Steven Scherer, M.D., Ph.D. – Professor of Neurology, University of Pennsylvania
Disarm’s Board of Directors includes: Mr. Jason Rhodes, chairman; Dr. Rajesh Devraj, CSO; Ms. Jean George, General Partner of Lightstone Ventures; Dr. Jeffrey Milbrandt; Dr. Alfred Sandrock; and Dr. Scott Brun, VP Scientific Affairs and Head of AbbVie Ventures, and Dr. Aaron DiAntonio as observers.
Disarm has licensed exclusive rights to key SARM1 discoveries from Washington University in St. Louis.
About Disarm Therapeutics
Disarm Therapeutics (Cambridge, Mass.) is a biotechnology company that is creating a new class of therapeutics to prevent axonal degeneration, a common yet unaddressed pathology that causes disability and disease progression in a broad range of neurological diseases. Disarm is developing therapeutics that inhibit the SARM1 protein, recently identified by our scientific founders as the central driver of axonal degeneration. Disarm’s breakthrough therapeutics are designed to prevent the loss of axons in chronic and acute diseases of the central, ocular, and peripheral nervous systems, including multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, glaucoma, and peripheral neuropathies. Disarm was co-founded by Atlas Venture, Drs. Jeffrey Milbrandt and Aaron DiAntonio of Washington University in St. Louis, and a team of exceptional scientists and drug developers committed to developing a new treatment paradigm for patients with neurological diseases. For more information, please visit www.disarmtx.com.
About Atlas Venture
Atlas Venture is a leading biotech venture capital firm. With the goal of doing well by doing good, we have been building breakthrough biotech startups since 1993. We work side by side with exceptional scientists and entrepreneurs to translate high impact science into medicines for patients. Our seed-led venture creation strategy rigorously selects and focuses investment on the most compelling opportunities to build scalable businesses and realize value. For more information, please visit www.atlasventure.com.
About Lightstone Ventures
Lightstone Ventures was founded in 2012 by the life science Partners of Advanced Technology Ventures (ATV) and Morgenthaler Ventures to focus on early-stage investments in novel breakthrough medical devices and biopharmaceuticals that have the potential to change medicine. The Lightstone team actively manages the Morgenthaler, ATV and Lightstone life science portfolios of more than 40 companies, and has been involved in several of the largest, venture-backed healthcare exits over the last decade including: Acceleron, Ardian, FivePrime, FoldRx, Hypnion, MicroVention, Morphotek, Plexxikon, Portola, Proteolix, Scioderm, Transcend, Threshold, Twelve, and Zeltiq. Lightstone is an international firm with offices in Menlo Park, CA; Boston, MA; Dublin, Ireland; and Singapore. For more information, visit http://www.lightstonevc.com.
About AbbVie Ventures
AbbVie Ventures is the strategic investment arm of AbbVie, the global biopharmaceutical company. A core component of AbbVie’s integrated approach to external innovation, we invest in very early stage transformational scientific opportunities that augment AbbVie’s core R&D areas within oncology, immunology and neurodegenerative diseases. We work closely with management teams of portfolio companies to support them in executing on their development goals to achieve the best outcomes. For more information, please visit: https://www.abbvie.com/partnerships/abbvie-ventures.html.