Aarden Pharmaceuticals continues to advance cutting-edge discoveries
Indianapolis, December 23, 2010 – 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
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 public-private 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,OrthoWorx 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, return-driven 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.