CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--()--DecImmune Therapeutics announced today that it has received a $1 million equity investment from Astellas Venture Management and has additionally been awarded $2.2 million in Phase II SBIR funding from the National Institutes of Health. Amgen Ventures and HealthCare Ventures also participated in the financing. The new funds will enable accelerated development of the company’s proprietary technology to reduce tissue damage, accelerate healing, and improve outcomes associated with ischemia reperfusion injury.
“Ischemia reperfusion injury is a central feature of many forms of tissue trauma, with few therapeutic options”
Ischemia reperfusion injury occurs in a broad range of conditions where blood flow has been temporarily occluded or impeded and results in acute inflammation, irreversible tissue damage, scar formation and loss of tissue functionality. DecImmune’s founders discovered the vascular epitope, N2 that is implicated in the initiation of the damage-causing cascade. DecImmune is developing therapeutic options to inhibit the initiating events of the cascade with potential to be applied to a range of conditions including myocardial infarction, stroke, burns, wound trauma and plastic surgery. Reducing tissue damage has the potential to accelerate healing and to provide better outcomes by leaving more tissue functionally intact.
The funding announced today will support continued preclinical development of DecImmune’s therapeutic program targeting myocardial salvage. Heart attack remains the leading cause of death in the United States, responsible for 1.2 million deaths per year. While existing therapies such as beta blockers and ACE inhibitors aim to reduce stress on surviving tissue they do not prevent or minimize acute tissue damage. The potential for adjunctive therapy to specifically address the reduction of cardiac tissue damage is significant.
Highlighting the impact of DecImmune’s approach to preservation of cardiac tissue post-myocardial infarction, the company published results from recent studies in the September 2010 issue of Cardiovascular Research1. In an accompanying editorial the journal noted the concept of natural antibody initiated immune activation as a fascinating target, worthy of development for therapeutic purposes.
“Ischemia reperfusion injury is a central feature of many forms of tissue trauma, with few therapeutic options,” said Dr. Shinya Yano, President of Astellas Venture Management LLC. “DecImmune’s approach to inhibiting damage caused by acute inflammatory response without deactivating important elements of the immune system is quite unique.”
“The funding we’re announcing today is clear recognition of the technical progress we’ve made to date and for the broad potential of DecImmune’s technology,” said Christopher Mirabelli, Managing Director of HealthCare Ventures and CEO of DecImmune Therapeutics. “The competitive, peer-reviewed basis for NIH/SBIR awards foster only the best innovations. DecImmune’s receipt of two Phase II awards underscores the important potential of N2-targetted therapeutics.” DecImmune was awarded a $1.8 million Phase II SBIR in 2009 for the study of N2 therapeutics for burn wounds.
About the DecImmune Therapeutics and the N2 Pathway
DecImmune Therapeutics was founded by Michael Carroll PhD (The Immune Disease Institute, Harvard Medical School), and Francis Moore Jr. MD (Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School). Drs. Moore and Carroll discovered the epitope of non-muscle myocin heavy chain II (“N2”) that becomes exposed on vascular cells during hypoxia. During reperfusion, binding of natural antibody to N2 initiates the immune response and acute inflammation ultimately responsible for tissue damage in a broad range of conditions including myocardial infarction, stroke, burns, wound trauma and plastic surgery. DecImmune is developing peptide and antibody-based therapeutics that can inhibit N2 binding to prevent tissue damage and preserve function. DecImmune has received equity financing from Amgen Ventures, Astellas Venture Management, and HealthCare Ventures.
About Astellas Venture Management
Astellas Venture Management's mission is to invest in emerging biotech companies that combine unique scientific capabilities with the potential for global market leadership and a management team driven by ambition for success of the company. To learn more about Astellas Venture Management please www.astellasventure.com.
About Amgen Ventures
Amgen Ventures is the corporate venture capital fund of Amgen Inc. Amgen Ventures reflects Amgen's commitment to helping patients by transforming cutting-edge scientific discoveries into novel treatments for serious illness, and invests in early-stage biotechnology companies focused on discovering and developing human therapeutics. To learn more about Amgen Ventures please visit www.amgen.com/partners/amgen_ventures.html.
About HealthCare Ventures
HealthCare Ventures is a leading life science venture capital firm investing in preclinical or early clinical stage, project-focused companies with the potential to transform patient care. To learn more about HealthCare Ventures, please visit www.hcven.com.
1 Cardiovascular Research (2010) 87, 618-627