RARE Daily

Arialys Launches with $58 Million to Develop Precision Medicines for Autoimmune Neuropsychiatric Diseases

September 13, 2023

Rare Daily Staff

Arialys Therapeutics, a company pioneering new therapeutics for autoimmune neuropsychiatry, closed $58 million in a seed financing.

The company’s founding investors, Avalon BioVentures, Catalys Pacific, and MPM BioImpact, were joined by Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC, Inc. and Alexandria Venture Investments in the financing.

Proceeds will be used to advance new precision medicines that specifically block pathogenic autoantibodies in the central nervous system and meaningfully expand the treatment possibilities for neuropsychiatric diseases driven by autoimmunity.

“Recent scientific discoveries have implicated abnormal autoimmune activity in a number of neuropsychiatric diseases, pointing us in a new direction to develop precision medicines for CNS disorders,” said Jay Lichter, president and CEO of Arialys and managing partner of Avalon BioVentures. “With the ability to isolate and characterize pathogenic autoantibodies in the CNS, we can now develop novel therapeutics and diagnostics to help millions of people who suffer from neuropsychiatric disorders driven by autoimmune disease.”

Anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis (ANRE), one of the most common forms of autoimmune encephalitis, is a rare, potentially lethal, and poorly managed neurological disease because it is often misdiagnosed. ANRE is caused by autoantibodies that crosslink and drive internalization of NMDA receptors (NMDAR), resulting in psychosis. Arialys’ lead candidate ART5803 is a therapeutic antibody designed to treat ANRE by blocking NMDAR autoantibodies. The company has generated promising preclinical data in a nonhuman primate disease model confirming ART5803 reverses encephalitis and decreases the behavioral symptoms caused by NMDAR autoantibody pathogenicity in the brain. Arialys has received orphan drug designation from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for ART5803 for the treatment of ANRE. Arialys purchased ART5803 from Astellas Pharma.

“Precision medicine approaches have led to tremendous successes in oncology, and now we have the insights to be at the forefront of developing precision medicines to transform the treatment landscape for neuropsychiatry,” said Mitsuyuki “Mickey” Matsumoto, scientific founder and chief scientific officer of Arialys, who previously served as an executive director and head of the Neuroscience Research Unit and Virtual Venture Unit Psychiatry at Astellas Pharma. “Leveraging a depth of expertise and breakthrough scientific research, the team has already generated validating preclinical proof-of-concept data and plans to file an IND next year and advance ART5803 into the clinic for the treatment of ANRE and autoimmune psychosis.”

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