Arteaus launches with $18M from Atlas, OrbiMed

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Atlas Venture and OrbiMed Advisors have provided $18 million to bankroll Arteaus Therapeutics, a Cambridge, MA-based developer that came out of stealth mode today. Arteaus, headed by Atlas' David Grayzel, has licensed a molecule from Eli Lilly ($LLY) for migraine treatment.

The molecule in question is an antibody that blocks a protein in the brain called calcitonin gene-related peptide (CGRP). "In the last 15 years, there has been a lot of data implicating CGRP in migraines," Grayzel tells Xconomy. What's particularly attractive about the antibody is that it could be developed into an injection that's given just twice a month. Arteaus is completing Phase I trials and expects to spend 15 months in Phase II testing of the drug.

Arteaus is the first company that's emerged from Atlas Venture Development Corp., a unit of the VC firm focused on single-drug companies. Rather than investing in a start-up for the long haul, the unit is dedicated to small developers with one very attractive drug that's likely to be acquired before larger, more expensive trials are necessary. As a result, the $18 million provided to Arteaus will be the only funding the company gets. “We need to move away from the old paradigm of raising a Series A, then a Series B and C,” Atlas' Jean-Francois Formela tells Xconomy. "We have one budget. We’re either going to get to success or failure." The venture group hopes Lilly will want to re-acquire Arteaus' antibody after the tiny company gets some of the early-stage development work out of the way.

- check out this report from Xconomy
- here's the release on Arteaus