Elixiron closes $27M series A for Alzheimer's and vitiligo clinical trials

Elixiron Immunotherapeutics has closed a $27 million series A to test its lead asset in Alzheimer's disease patients and advance a pipeline of immuno-oncology assets. 

The biotech has been testing its lead asset, EI-1071, in a phase 1 trial in healthy volunteers to test its safety and tolerability. With the new financing, Elixiron aims to test the oral inhibitor in patients with Alzheimer's. The biotech also picked up a $1 million grant from the Alzheimer's Association almost a year ago to the day for the study of the memory-robbing disease.

Funds have been flowing into the Alzheimer's drug development scene in the months since the FDA controversially granted Biogen's Aduhelm the green light.

RELATED: Biogen's Aduhelm win opened up market frenzy for Alzheimer's-focused companies

Elixiron is the latest, and the biotech plans to tackle the disease by targeting microglia-mediated neuroinflammation. The biotech's oral treatment inhibits the colony-stimulating factor 1 receptor, or CSF1R, which is needed for growth and survival of activated microglia. By inhibiting CSF1R, Elixiron thinks EI-1071 will modulate microglia and, in turn, stop neuroinflammation. 

The chances of this working, at least on an historical basis when its comes to Alzheimer's research, are pretty small; usually this type of attempt would not attract much attention or investor backing, given the ever-growing pile of Alzheimer's failures over the past 15 years, but that Aduhelm decision has breathed new light into the area.

It is not a one-trick pony, however, as the four-year-old biotech is looking toward a broader future and will use the fresh proceeds toward bringing a human antibody into clinical trials for vitiligo, which causes loss of skin color in patches, and other immunological disorders like chronic hepatitis B. 

And it will get broader: That $27 million is also expected to bring three immuno-oncology assets closer to clinical trials. Elixiron has another CSF1R-targeting bifunctional asset in its pipeline, a PDL-1 bifunctional program and a regulation T-cell antibody.

Chairman and CEO Hung-Kai Chen founded Elixiron in 2017. He was previously senior vice president and chief medical officer of Eusol Biotech, a clinical-stage spinal cord and neurological diseases biotech.

Elixiron is also led by Executive Vice President of Clinical Development Carrie Duan, who comes from GlaxoSmithKline, and Executive Vice President of R&D Pandelakis Koni, who was previously director of research at the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy.

The series A was led by Pangu Capital and Taiwania Capital with participation from investors DCI Partners of Daiwa Securities Group, Mega International Commercial Bank, Fubon Financial Holdings, Hong Tai Electric Industrial and China Development Capital Industrial Bank Capital Group. Elixiron has offices in Shanghai, Taipei and San Francisco.