N.O. Biotech Firm Buys Technology, Facility from Minnesota Company

NEW ORLEANS ─ Local biotech firm AxoSim, which provides pharmaceutical companies a high-tech alternative to animal testing, announced that it has acquired several assets of a Minneapolis-based company in the same field.

AxoSim has acquired from StemoniX (a subsidiary of Vyant Bio) a proprietary drug discovery platform, a 14,000-square-foot R&D facility, nine patents and associated intellectual property. The transaction calls for payments from AxoSim to Vyant Bio of $2.25 million. About half was paid at close and the remainder will be based on milestones. AxoSim financed the acquisition and the accompanying operational expansion with participation from current and new investors.

“Neurological disorders cause enormous suffering and are debilitating for patients, families and society,” said AxoSim CEO Lowry Curley in a statement announcing the acquisition. “Unfortunately, new drug R&D for neurodegenerative and other neurological diseases is among the slowest, most expensive and least effective, reflecting the complexity of these diseases and the lack of predictive animal models.”

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AxoSim develops human drug discovery platforms — such as the proprietary products NerveSim and BrainSim — for Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and other neurological diseases. The goal is to help biopharmaceutical partners save time and money by predicting a drug’s clinical performance in the lab. Curley believes the StemoniX deal will further that mission.

“The acquisition includes the microBrain drug discovery platform, which expands our neuroscience drug discovery footprint significantly,” he said. “The addition of microBrain is highly complementary to NerveSim and BrainSim, with its unique ability to measure electrical activity in the brain, which expands our research efforts into seizure-related disorders such as epilepsy, Rett syndrome and Parkinson’s disease.”

As part of the deal, members of Vyant Bio’s science team are now full-time AxoSim employees. Curley said his newly expanded team has already started referring to the Minneapolis facilities as the “upriver” location and the primary lab at the New Orleans BioInnovation Center the “downriver” headquarters. 

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“Our new team members bring almost 20 years of combined experience developing and leveraging microBrain,” said Curley. “While this team leads our upriver facility day to day, we share sales, financial and operational support. For the scale and automation of our platforms, the upriver building has already been built out for advanced manufacturing and high-throughput screening, which is a huge asset.”

Curley said the time was right for this expansion because of increased regulatory support for the use of alternatives to animal testing and the advances in such technology. The accelerating pace of adoption by major pharmaceutical firms, meanwhile, is spurring even more innovation. AxoSim, he said, already counts 20 of the top 25 pharmaceutical firms as customers.

One of AxoSim’s early investors was Gayle Benson, owner of the New Orleans Saints and New Orleans Pelicans. She’s a fan of the company’s latest move.

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“AxoSim’s groundbreaking advancements in neuroscience have proven to be industry leading and remarkable,” she said. “AxoSim’s dedication to innovation and their unwavering commitment to improving our understanding of the human brain are truly inspiring. Through their cutting-edge technology and acquisitions like this one, AxoSim is paving the way for transformative changes in medicine and our community.”

Jones Walker served as legal counsel to AxoSim for the StemoniX transaction. LifeSci Capital and Lowenstein Sandler served as advisers to Vyant Bio.

Curley said more acquisitions are a possibility.

“AxoSim’s vision is to be the company that all pharmaceutical researchers look to when developing cures for devastative neurodegenerative diseases,” he said. “We are now leveraging three unprecedented platforms to improve the chances for clinical success, and these models are incredibly complex. There are complementary technologies in other companies, and even academia, which address diseases that our platforms are not necessarily suited to tackle yet. We want to be known as a consolidator, which can happen through partnerships and collaborations, and certainly acquisitions, as we are demonstrating right now.”

Upriver Lab Pic 1
AxoSim’s ‘upriver’ team members pose outside their Minneapolis facility.

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