Business & Tech

Cambridge biotech Disarm raises $30m for drug to slow ALS, other degenerative diseases

Disarm Therapeutics Inc.

A Cambridge biotech startup said Tuesday that it has raised $30 million to begin clinical development of a treatment to slow or halt the progression of degenerative diseases that affect the nervous system, from ALS to glaucoma.

Disarm Therapeutics Inc. hopes to develop a pill that would inhibit a protein that causes “axonal degeneration,” the deterioration of a nerve fiber that commonly occurs in diseases of the central, peripheral, and optic nervous systems.

“Solving the puzzle of axonal degeneration has challenged scientists and physicians for more than a century,” said Jason Rhodes, partner at the Cambridge venture capital firm Atlas Venture who also is the co-founder and acting chief executive of Disarm, which was founded last year.

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“Now, for the first time, we have a therapeutic approach to directly prevent the loss of axons in patients with diseases including multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, glaucoma, and peripheral neuropathies,” said Rhodes.

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Also working on the venture are Dr. Jeffrey Milbrandt, head of the genetics department of the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, and Dr. Aaron DiAntonio, a professor of developmental biology at the university.

Besides Atlas, investors in the biotech include two other venture capital firms that specialize in life sciences: Lightstone Ventures and AbbVie Ventures.

Jonathan Saltzman can be reached at jsaltzman@globe.com