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GEN News Highlights : Nov 10, 2011

Avaxia Raises $2.2M to Take Oral Antibody IBD Candidate into Clinical Trials

Firm’s bovine colostrum-derived polyclonal antibodies are designed to be resistant to digestion by gastrointestinal enzymes.

Oral antibody drug firm Avaxia Biologics raised $2.2 million in the first close of its angel-led Series A financing round. The firm says it will use the funds to progress manufacturing and development of its lead anti-TNF oral antibody candidate AVX-470, which is expected to start in a Phase Ib trial against inflammatory bowel disease next year.

In August the firm won a two-year, $2.9 million Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) award to develop AVX-470 for treating gastrointestinal (G) damage caused by radiation exposure.

Avaxia’s oral polyclonal antibodies are isolated from immunized cow colostrum and retain activity within the environment of the gastrointestinal tract. The firm says antibodies in bovine colostrum are naturally resistant to gastric digestion because they contain a carbohydrate moiety that makes them stable to acid and proteolytic degradation.

Such antibodies can thus be used to target antigens present within the lumen of the GI tract (such as gluten and other food antigens), those expressed on the luminal face of the GI tract (e.g., sugar transporters and receptors in the small intestine), or antigens that reside below the mucosal barrier of the GI tract (e.g., inflammatory cytokines).

In addition to lead candidate AVX-470, Avaxia’s internal pipeline currently includes preclinical-stage oral candidates for treating celiac disease, obesity and diabetes, and oral mucositis. The firm says it has also identified targets spanning a range of disease fields including cancer as well as cardiovascular and renal disorders that are accessible to oral antibody treatments.