Abrax Japan Inc., a privately-owned biotech startup dedicated to developing a novel therapy for autoimmune diseases, announced today that it has secured $3 million in Seed 4 financing from existing and new investors. The proceeds will be used to primarily support the company’s development efforts to advance its lead program (ABX-919) in atopic dermatitis, including GMP manufacturing, preclinical testing, and the first-in-human, proof-of-concept (POC) clinical trial as well as preliminary development work for future assets.
Abrax’s most advanced program, ABX-919, is a topical spray medication for atopic dermatitis. The product is a reformulated version of an approved drug that relies on a whole new mechanism of action of the API that was discovered through the research work of Dr. Taku Kambayashi at University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Kambayashi discovered that TSLP-elevating agents induce the secretion of sebum, an oily substance produced by the skin for skin barrier function. Through this mechanism, TSLP also improves lipid metabolism in obese mice by decreasing their triglycerides and improving blood glucose and fasting insulin levels. (our Science article)
ABX-919 is currently in its final stages of pre-clinical animal testing, and the company is expecting to initiate its first-in-human, POC clinical trial with atopic dermatitis patients in Australia next year. Abrax is aiming to obtain an accelerated FDA approval thereafter by utilizing the 505(b)(2) pathway.
“We are very excited and proud of our seed round financing and grateful for our investors’ continued support and confidence in our vision and technology.”, said Jo Narita, co-founder and CEO of Abrax Japan. “Dr. Kambayashi’s insight into the new biology surrounding the mechanism of TLSP has led us to the development of ABX-919 as our lead program, but is the tip of the iceberg for us. We are planning to rapidly expand our pipeline by efficiently targeting the new biology around TLSP and thereby efficiently modulating the patient’s immune system response. We believe that ABX-919 and our next generation products will be able to address a wide array of diseases beyond AD including dry eye, hyperlipidemia, androgenic alopecia, and obesity.
About Abrax Japan
Abrax Japan was founded in 2020 and is focused on commercialization of the basic research discovery by Dr. Taku Kambayashi at the University of Pennsylvania. In order to harness the true mechanism of TSLP and its medical applications, Jo Narita, CEO, tied up with Dr. Kambayashi to establish Abrax Japan in Tokyo, Japan.
ABX-919 is a reformulated substance from a commercially listed drug approved for its use on psoriasis. Through the 505(b)(2) regulatory pathway, Abrax looks to repurpose ABX919 for an accelerated FDA approval for topical treatment of Atopic Dermatitis.
About Atopic Dermatitis
Atopic dermatitis (AD) is a chronic inflammatory skin condition with a wide spectrum of clinical presentations and combinations of symptoms that can affect the quality of life of patients. Almost 25% of children and 2 to 3% of adults in the general population are affected by this disease. Clinical manifestations include intense pruritus, erythema, skin dryness, oozing and crust formation; the main symptom is pruritus and appears early in life and often precedes allergic disease such as asthma.
Current treatment is based on lifestyle modifications to reduce exposure to environmental stimuli and allergens, skin hydration and local control of itching. Multiple topical therapies are used in AD and include topical anti‑inflammatory treatment (corticosteroids), calcineurin inhibitors (pimecrolimus, tacrolimus, and Crisaborole), and oral antihistamine therapy. Safety of these products for use in children and adolescents has been of concern for the FDA.