Pfizer leads Series A for upstart that aims to help ‘cure Type 1 diabetes’

Pfizer, along with Orion Equity Partners and JDRF, is betting $4 million on a startup that is seeking to use targeted nanoparticle tolerance therapeutics (TNTT) across a range of immune disorders and even to one day cure Type 1 diabetes.

The new biotech, called AnTolRx, will use the Series A cash pot over the next two years to fund research and development of its antigen-specific TNTT.

Preclinical testing is now underway and aims to further explore, develop and potentially commercialize a tolerance-inducing therapy that would eliminate immune attacks on beta cells in the pancreas.

This, JDRF tells me, could “be part of a combination of therapies that could eventually serve as a cure for Type 1 diabetes.”

Its tech has come out of the lab of Dr. Francisco Quintana, associate scientist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and associate Professor of Neurology at Harvard Medical School.

“AnTolRx’s nanoparticles aim to co-deliver targeted antigens and a tolerogenic factor to suppress pathogenic antigen-specific immune responses and thereby restore more normal immunoregulation in a variety of autoimmune disorders”, said Mark McCarthy, AnTolRx’s CEO.

“We are grateful for the funding and support we have received from Pfizer, JDRF and Orion, as we continue to focus on developing disease-modifying therapies for patients with immune disorders, including Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis and inflammatory bowel disease.”

Pfizer ($PFE) led the investment round, and also has an exclusive option to in-license the company’s Type 1 diabetes candidate should it hit certain regulator milestones, details of which were not made public.

“Pfizer is committed to exploring novel approaches for inducing tolerance in autoimmune disorders, and we believe that AnTolRx’s technology may have potential to help create therapeutic value for patients in need,” said Michael Vincent, SVP and CSO of inflammation and immunology at Pfizer.

This funding from JDRF, the Type 1 diabetes charity, comes as an extension of JDRF’s previous funding of Dr. Quintana’s research in the academic setting at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. The charity told FierceBiotech that it is “an excellent example of translating novel science from bench to bedside.”

The AnTolRx venture is also JDRF’s first investment designed to establish a company for the development and commercialization of a new therapy for Type 1 diabetes.

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