RARE Daily

Vigil Launches with $50 Million to Develop Therapeutics for Neurodegenerative Diseases

December 8, 2020

Rare Daily Staff

Vigil Neuroscience, a new biotechnology company harnessing the power of microglia for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases, launched with $50 million in series A financing to address unmet need in rare and common neurodegenerative disease resulting from microglial dysfunction.

Atlas Venture co-founded, seeded and incubated Vigil with late preclinical-stage assets in-licensed from Amgen, who will remain a key shareholder in the company.

“We have identified multiple neurodegenerative diseases with clear evidence of genetically linked microglial dysfunction impacting small and large patient populations. Most of these diseases are severe with limited to no treatment options,” said Bruce Booth, board chair of Vigil and partner at Atlas Venture. “We have built Vigil to translate these exciting breakthroughs in basic science and human genetics of microglia into precision-based therapies that will help patients suffering from these devastating diseases.”

Atlas also co-led the series A round with Northpond Ventures and participation by Hatteras Venture Partners and Alexandria Venture Investments.

“Microglia cells are involved in maintaining the health and wellbeing of the brain, and regulate a host of neuro-immunological functions to prevent neurodegenerative disease,” said Ivana Magovčević-Liebisch, president and CEO, Vigil Neuroscience. “Our strategy is to first develop precision-based therapies using rare microgliopathies as an entry point, which will provide us with insights that will open up opportunities in much larger indications. It’s very exciting to be on the precipice of this new area of scientific exploration and to be able to jumpstart our pipeline development with a lead asset that we anticipate will enter the clinic in 2021.”

Vigil will use proceeds from the financing to progress its lead pipeline candidate, a monoclonal antibody TREM2 agonist, through phase 1 studies, advance their small molecule TREM2 agonist to IND, as well as pursue additional assets to grow the pipeline and increase the body of data supporting microglia biology as an important therapeutic pathway.

Many of the foundational discoveries of TREM’s role in central nervous system disorders originated from Marco Colonna’s lab at the Washington University School of Medicine. “TREM2 is a compelling molecular target as it serves as a damage sensor of microglia with trophic function and plays a role in microglia response to CNS injury,” said Colonna, the Robert Rock Belliveau professor of Pathology and Immunology at Washington University School of Medicine and the chairman of Vigil’s Scientific Advisory Board.

Photo: Bruce Booth, board chair of Vigil and partner at Atlas Venture




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