Organoids touted as future of brain disorder R&D as AxoSim scoops up tech from Vyant subsidiary

As Vyant Bio continues its wind-down, the neuroscience research assets of its subsidiary StemoniX have officially been picked up by AxoSim, a New Orleans-based drug discovery biotech.

In an Oct. 24 press release, AxoSim said it had closed a previously announced all-cash, $2.25 million deal with Vyant to buy the company’s microBrain technology along with a 14,000-square-foot research and development manufacturing facility near Minneapolis, nine patents and their associated intellectual property, and the team of scientists that helped develop microBrain.

Vyant paid AxoSim $1.1 million when the deal closed, according to terms outlined by the company in a July press release about the acquisition. The rest will be paid in installments based on milestones and the expiration of standard legal waiting periods.

“Our goal of delivering human data faster to transform neurological R&D takes a major step forward with the addition of the microBrain platform, team and facilities,” AxoSim CEO and co-founder Lowry Curley, Ph.D., said in today's release.

MicroBrain’s platform consists of 2D and 3D human brain organoids—microscopic masses of cells that resemble and function like the organ they represent—coupled with analytic software. Mixtures of astrocytes and neurons grown from a single donor’s stem cells, the cultures can be used to study how different chemicals affect the brain’s electrical activity.

AxoSim plans to offer the tech as a way for its pharmaceutical industry customers to study Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy and Rett syndrome, a rare disease that causes progressive loss of motor function and language skills starting in infancy. The company already offers two of its own products in this space: NerveSim, a nerve-on-a-chip for studying nerve conduction in chronic pain, neuropathy and neurotoxicity; and BrainSim, organoids composed of the kinds of cells involved in multiple sclerosis.

Pharma companies are increasingly turning to organoids for research and to de-risk drug candidates, a trend helped along by the recently implemented FDA Modernization Act 2.0. The updated rules allow for companies to take drugs to clinical trials based on data from organoids, tissues-on-a-chip and other animal alternatives. This is particularly pertinent for biotechs in the neuroscience space, as animals are poor models of the human brain. AxoSim claims to count 20 of the top 25 pharmaceutical companies by size and revenue among its customers.

“This acquisition brings together the knowledge and intellectual property of some of the most advanced organoid models with AxoSim’s broad experience in their commercialization and dissemination,” Thomas Hartung, M.D., Ph.D., a brain organoid researcher at Johns Hopkins University who licensed the BrainSim technology to AxoSim and is now the company’s consulting vice president of scientific affairs, said in the press release.

“Brain organoids are the future for drug development in brain disorders and the de-risking of drugs and chemicals in general,” he added.