Cambridge, Mass. – Nov. 28, 2012. BioAxone BioSciences, a privately held biotechnology company, today celebrated the opening of its scientific and clinical headquarters in Cambridge, Mass., as well as its selection this week by Windhover Conferences as one of the “Top Ten” Neuroscience Companies for Partnership. The company’s celebration was held today with local officials and industry leaders. Attending the event were BioAxone CEO, Dr. Lisa McKerracher; Massachusetts Life Sciences Center Vice President for Communications and Marketing, Angus McQuilken; MassBio Director of Economic Development and Global Affairs, Peter Abair; Founder of Massachusetts Walks Again, Dr. Eric Ruby; and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino’s Commissioner for Persons with Disabilities, Kristen McCosh.
BioAxone, headquartered in Florida, is developing a protein therapeutic drug called Cethrin to improve patient recovery from spinal cord injury. Its scientific and clinical headquarters will be located at the Cambridge Innovation Center in Cambridge, Mass., which was selected for its concentration of life sciences companies, availability of walk-in wet-lab incubator space and its skilled workforce. Dr. McKerracher will be starting operations in Cambridge, with plans to hire 12 employees by 2013.
Dr. McKerracher, of BioAxone, said, “I am pleased that Cethrin and BioAxone’s leadership in the field of spinal cord injury have been recognized by Elsevier Business Intelligence and Windhover Conferences. Now that BioAxone has joined the Massachusetts life sciences community, we look forward to reporting progress on Cethrin and collaborating with members of the world’s leading life sciences cluster to continue to develop novel drugs for unmet needs in the field of neurotrauma.”
“Thanks to our growth strategy of investing in education, innovation and infrastructure, Massachusetts continues to lead the world in life sciences,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “We welcome BioAxone to Massachusetts and look forward to their contributions to our thriving life sciences community.”
Traumatic spinal cord injury affects more than 12,000 Americans each year, mainly from motor vehicle accidents. Approximately 70 percent of patients suffer injuries to the cervical spinal cord, which leads to quadriplegia and dependence on care for daily living. There are no approved drugs to treat spinal cord injury. The only current treatment for SCI is surgery and rehabilitation.
Cethrin’s mechanism of action is to facilitate plasticity and rewiring of pathways damaged by spinal cord injury. Studies on axon regeneration and recovery in rodents have revealed that “learning” can occur in spinal cord circuits and the spinal cord is not hard wired. Cethrin facilitates axon regeneration and stimulates plasticity and is the only drug in development that targets multiple inhibitory signals to promote regenerative repair after spinal cord injury.
“On behalf of the Center, we would like to warmly welcome BioAxone to Massachusetts,” said Susan Windham-Bannister, Ph.D., President & CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, the agency charged with implementing Governor Patrick’s 10-year, $1 billion Life Sciences Initiative. “BioAxone’s drug development program is a source of hope for individuals suffering from traumatic spinal cord injuries, and the company is a welcome addition to our thriving life sciences community in Massachusetts. We are so pleased that that BioAxone selected Massachusetts as the best place for the company’s scientific and clinical headquarters!”
“Massachusetts’ strength is in our density of life sciences companies, academic institutions, medical centers and organizations that support the cluster’s success,” said Abair, of MassBio. “We’re thrilled to welcome BioAxone to the Massachusetts supercluster, and celebrate the number of small, innovative research companies who are setting up shop in Kendall Square.”
BioAxone’s clinical program to develop Cethrin has been selected by Windhover conferences as one of the “Top Ten” neuroscience partnership opportunities to watch. David Cassak, Vice President, Content, Windhover Conferences explained that “to be selected as a winner, BioAxone has met rigorous criteria, including unmet medical need, market potential, diversity of indications, strong science, multi-level partnering opportunities (biotech and pharma), potential for new opportunities beyond initial indications and corporate stability.”
Also recognized at the event were other companies that have recently located offices in the Cambridge Innovation Center, including Alacrita, Arrayjet and Qserve Group.
BioAxone BioSciences Inc. is a new, privately owned company specializing in the development and commercialization of proprietary technologies for unmet medical needs and neurotrauma. The lead drug candidate, Cethrin targets Rho signaling, and has potential use in a number of indications that include central nervous system injuries, degenerative diseases, and optic neuropathies. BioAxone BioSciences was formed by Dr. Lisa McKerracher and is currently privately financed. Early support of the Cethrin program was from grants and venture financing in Canada. Dr. McKerracher acquired the patents that protect Cethrin and other assets from its former investors and formed BioAxone BioSciences, a USA based corporation. The scientific and clinical activities are now located in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Cethrin acts on a protein called Rho that regulates the neuronal response to growth inhibitory molecules. The activity of Cethrin is to facilitate the regeneration of injured axons, foster plasticity, limit tissue damage, and improve functional recovery after spinal cord injury. A Phase IIa study in acute spinal cord injured patients demonstrated safety and efficacy of Cethrin, which is delivered topically to the spinal cord during decompression surgery. Motor recovery was measured by American Spinal cord Injury Association (ASIA) motor scores. Patients who were quadriplegic after sustaining cervical (neck) spinal cord injury showed the most promising trends of recovery. In the open label clinical study, 31% of all cervical patients, and 66% in the most effective dose group, showed improvement from complete sensory and motor paralysis below the level of injury(ASIA A) to recovery of some motor function (ASIA C or D). The cervical patients treated with Cethrin recovered on average 2 neurological levels, restoring arm movements that are critical for normal daily activity, quality of life, and reducing long-term health care costs associated with paralysis. While further clinical study is required to demonstrate efficacy and to complete the approval process, the rates of recovery and the demonstrated safety in the first Clinical I/IIa study merit optimism.
Dr. Lisa McKerracher
BioAxone BioSciences Inc.
Chief Executive Officer
One Broadway, 14th Floor
Cambridge, MA 02142
Angus G. McQuilken
Massachusetts Life Sciences Center
Vice President for Communications & Marketing