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Arialys Therapeutics Launches With $58M in Seed Financing

NEW YORK – Arialys Therapeutics launched on Tuesday with $58 million in seed financing to support its goal of developing novel therapeutics for autoimmune neuropsychiatric diseases by blocking pathogenic autoantibodies in the central nervous system.

Participants in the seed financing included founding investors Avalon BioVentures, Catalys Pacific, and MPM BioImpact, as well as Johnson & Johnson's JJDC and Alexandria Venture Investments.

La Jolla, California-based Arialys plans to file an investigational new drug application with the US Food and Drug Administration next year for its lead therapeutic candidate, ART5803, as a treatment for anti-NMDA receptor encephalitis (ANRE), a form of autoimmune brain inflammation that results in psychosis.

ANRE is caused by autoantibodies that drive internalization of NMDA receptors for the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate.

ART5803, which Arialys purchased from Tokyo-based drugmaker Astellas Pharma, is designed to block those NMDA receptor autoantibodies and, hopefully, reverse encephalitis. Patients will only be eligible for the therapeutic candidate if they are positive for autoantibodies for the NMDA receptor.

The drug has shown promising results in preclinical trials of nonhuman primate disease models, according to the company.

"Recent scientific discoveries have implicated abnormal autoimmune activity in a number of neuropsychiatric diseases, pointing us in a new direction to develop precision medicines for CNS disorders," Jay Lichter, president and CEO of Arialys and managing partner of Avalon BioVentures, said in a statement.