Avaxia secures $2.2M for bowel treatment

Avaxia Biologics has nailed down $2.2 million in Series A venture financing to help launch a clinical trial for its inflammatory bowel disease drug next fall.

The Lexington, MA-based company says the funding will fuel development and manufacturing of its AVX-470 anti-TNF oral antibody therapeutic for the anticipated Phase Ib clinical trial, which would begin in the second half of 2012. Avaxia also plans to use the cash to help pay for final pre-clinical studies of the compound in advance of the trial.

Cherrystone Angels of Providence, RI, led the round, which also included Boston Harbor Angels and undisclosed individual investors, the company said in its Nov. 10 announcement.

Inflammatory bowel disease can be quite painful and even life threatening, encompassing chronic inflammation of part or all of a person's digestive tract, according to the Mayo Clinic. The disease, the hospital notes, can include ulcerative colitis and Crohn's disease. And companies view the illness in the context of a growing global market already worth billions of dollars.

Avaxia isn't stopping with $2.2 million. Company founder and CEO Barbara Fox said in a statement the firm is in "advanced discussions with a limited number of other qualified investors" to complete its Series A financing round. Prior to the new financing, Avaxia raised about $4.3 million in non-dilutive funding as well as a number of SBIR grants and a loan from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center.

Avaxia's separate $2.9 million contract with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority covers initial research and develpment costs for an oral antibody therapy to help minimize gastrointestinal damage for patients who endured unexpected radiation exposure.

- here's the release