Axerion gets $750,000 for neuro research

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Connecticut Innovations today said it has invested $750,000 in New Haven-based Axerion Therapeutics Inc., a Yale University spinoff that is developing treatments for neurological injuries and diseases.

Axerion was founded by Scheer & Co., and Yale faculty member Stephen Strittmatter. Life sciences advisory and venture capital firm Scheer, also located in New Haven, has been managing Axerion’s operations and was also involved in the founding of other biotechnology companies, including Viropharma Inc., Orapharma Inc., Esperion Therapeutics Inc., Sopherion Therapeutics Inc., Aegerion Pharmaceuticals Inc., Tengion and Optherion Inc.

Axerion has licensed two platforms from Yale.

One is the basis of its Prion Protein (PrP) project, which is a novel potential therapeutic for Alzheimer’s disease. Axerion is developing small-molecule oral compounds designed to block the binding of amyloid beta oligomers (clumps of a-beta peptides) to PrP in the brain, which would prevent a cascade of events that result in brain dysfunction in Alzheimer’s patients.

Axerion also is working on the Nogo Receptor platform in developing treatments that have the potential to stimulate regrowth in axons, which are fibers that electrically connect one nerve cell to another. Those treatments are targeted at helping to restore function in patients with spinal cord injuries, stroke and other central nervous system disorders.

The $750,000 investment by quasi-public agency Connecticut Innovations came through its Eli Whitney Fund. The investment is CI’s 11th in early-stage Connecticut technology companies since the fiscal year began in July. David Wurzer, CI managing director of investments, will represent CI on Axerion’s board of directors.

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