A Cambridge biotech startup said Tuesday that it has raised $30 million to begin clinical development of a treatment to slow or halt the progression of degenerative diseases that affect the nervous system, from ALS to glaucoma.
Disarm Therapeutics Inc. hopes to develop a pill that would inhibit a protein that causes “axonal degeneration,” the deterioration of a nerve fiber that commonly occurs in diseases of the central, peripheral, and optic nervous systems.
“Solving the puzzle of axonal degeneration has challenged scientists and physicians for more than a century,” said Jason Rhodes, partner at the Cambridge venture capital firm Atlas Venture who also is the co-founder and acting chief executive of Disarm, which was founded last year.
“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,” said Rhodes.
Also working on the venture are Dr. Jeffrey Milbrandt, head of the genetics department of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and Dr. Aaron DiAntonio, a professor of developmental biology at the university.
Besides Atlas, investors in the biotech include two other venture capital firms that specialize in life sciences: Lightstone Ventures and AbbVie Ventures.Jonathan Saltzman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org