Biotech DecImmune Grabs $1M from Astellas VC

Xconomy Boston — 

DecImmune Therapeutics has made some news this morning after what appears to be a long silence. The Cambridge, MA-based developer of drugs for tissue damage has raised $1 million in equity funding from Astellas Venture Management, the VC arm of Japanese drug maker Astellas Pharma, according to the company.

DecImmune (formerly Natural Antibodies) said that it has also been awarded $2.2 million in a Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant from the National Institutes of Health. The firm’s other financial backers include Cambridge-based HealthCare Ventures and Amgen Ventures, the investment unit of Thousand Oaks, CA-based biotech giant Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN). Both Amgen and HealthCare Ventures invested in the firm in 2006 and they have put in a small amount of funding as part of the recent financing with Astellas, said David Hoey, a company spokesman. DecImmune, founded in 2003, has now raised just over $3 million from investors, according to Hoey.

“The funding we’re announcing today is clear recognition of the technical progress we’ve made to date and for the broad potential of DecImmune’s technology,” said Chris Mirabelli, a managing director of HealthCare Ventures and CEO of DecImmune, in a statement.

The company’s research is based on the discovery—by founders Michael Carroll and Francis Moore of Harvard Medical School—of a molecular target on cells that touches off an immune response that leads to inflammation and tissue damage. The firm is developing peptide- and antibody-based drugs to block the molecular target and thus the tissue-attacking immune response. Its NIH grant will fund the firm’s research of treatments to reduce tissue damage from burns, and the venture funding from Astellas and its previous backers will go toward its program to find drugs that rescue cardiac tissues from injury after heart attacks, Hoey said.