Axial Therapeutics tops up funding for phase 2 autism trial with $37M series C

Axial Therapeutics has picked up $37.3 million to bankroll a midstage test in autism and fund further work on neurological diseases. 

The Woburn, Massachusetts-based biotech began the phase 2b study in August and expects primary completion next December, according to the federal clinical trials database. The trial is testing Axial's small molecule that restricts the gut as a treatment for irritability in children with autism. 

The trial aims to enroll 195 children ages 13 to 17 to test the treatment at high and low doses versus placebo. In a phase 1b/2a trial, the therapy was safe and well tolerated and showed evidence that it could improve irritability and anxiety, Axial said. 

Axial secured the series C funds to also support preclinical work in neurological diseases, the company said Wednesday. Sydney VC shop OneVentures and the University of Tokyo Innovation Platform Company led the round, which brought Axial's total funding to $91.5 million.

RELATED: Axial Biotherapeutics nets $25M for clinical gut-brain axis studies into autism and Parkinson’s

Neurological diseases, specifically Parkinson's, are where the 2017 Fierce 15 company got its start.

Axial launched in 2016 out of research from co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer Sarkis Mazmanian, Ph.D., at Caltech. In mouse models, Mazmanian's team showed some gut bacteria promote Parkinson's progression. 

In conjunction with the round, Axial boosted its board with OneVentures principal Sarah Meibusch, UTokyo IPC's Makoto Ohori, Ph.D., and Seventure's Nora Frey.