INDIANAPOLIS, Dec. 23, 2010 /PRNewswire/ -- BioCrossroads' Indiana Seed Fund has announced its eleventh investment, committing $250,000 to biotech start-up Aarden Pharmaceuticals. Based in Indianapolis but drawing key parts of its veteran entrepreneurial team from San Diego, Aarden is developing novel technologies to attack difficult-to-treat diseases through focus on specific intracellular disease targets. The BioCrossroads investment will support the company to advance its lead program, a tuberculosis (TB) treatment, through the pre-clinical development stage.
Aarden's scientific platform comes through the work of Dr. Zhong-Yin Zhang, Robert A. Harris Professor and Chairman of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Indiana University School of Medicine, and an internationally recognized expert in the field of protein tyrosine phosphatases (PTPs), a large family of signaling enzymes that regulate a wide array of essential cellular processes. Dr. Zhang's work is based on novel chemistry that allows drugs to work more effectively in finding their targets.
"Aarden's research was born in Dr. Zhang's laboratory, which was funded through Lilly Endowment's historic Indiana Genomics Initiative (INGEN) grant to the Indiana University School of Medicine several years ago," said David Johnson, president and CEO of BioCrossroads. "The goal of INGEN was to make Indiana a destination point for 21st century biotechnology discovery and, in so doing, bring more translational research to life for better human health. Aarden's promising science, pre-eminent research and outstanding leadership team illustrate very well the full promise of the grant."
The second leading cause of death in the world, approximately 2 million people die from tuberculosis each year. Current treatments are insufficient. Often, existing antibiotics are not fully effective, particularly against multi-drug resistant TB under a regimen that demands arduous treatments for up to nine months. Aarden's drug has the potential to address current challenges – offering a shorter treatment duration and a stronger, more efficacious treatment.
Along with its TB therapeutic platform, Aarden is also making progress in research efforts in cancer (e.g. leukemia) and autoimmune diseases (e.g. rheumatoid arthritis and lupus). The company's cancer and autoimmune programs are currently in pre-clinical testing.
"BioCrossroads' continuing support has value even beyond this important financial commitment. Certainly, this investment from the BioCrossroads Seed Fund will help us accelerate the progress of our TB program," said Aarden CEO Gary Noonan. "It's a testament to our science and team that we are now part of the group of high caliber start ups that BioCrossroads has funded."
BioCrossroads (www.biocrossroads.com) is Indiana's initiative to grow, advance and invest in the life sciences, a publicprivate collaboration that supports the region's existing research and corporate strengths while encouraging new business development. BioCrossroads provides money and support to life sciences businesses, launches new life sciences enterprises (Indiana Health Information Exchange, Fairbanks Institute for Healthy Communities, BioCrossroadsLINX, and Datalys Center), expands collaboration and partnerships among Indiana's life science institutions, promotes science education and markets Indiana's life sciences industry.
About the Indiana Seed Fund I
The $6 million, returndriven Indiana Seed Fund was launched in June 2005 and is managed by BioCrossroads with funding from BioCrossroads, the Indiana Finance Authority and the Indiana Economic Development Corporation. The Seed Fund provides working capital in the range of $50,000$500,000 to promising Indiana life sciences companies at the preliminary stages of operation.
Aarden (www.aardenpharma.com) is a small molecule drug discovery and development company. The company's novel technology from the labs of the Indiana University School of Medicine is a chemistry breakthrough that will enable it to make drugs against a previously undruggable set of intracellular phosphatase (PTP) disease targets. Aarden's first programs are focused on infectious disease, cancer, metabolic and autoimmune conditions.