Catalys Pacific

Exploring Breakthroughs in Autoimmune Mechanisms to Treat Neuropsychiatric Diseases

Arialys Therapeutics, Inc. (“Arialys”), a private biotech company founded by Catalys Pacific along with Avalon BioVentures and MPM Capital, is exploring scientific breakthroughs in autoimmune mechanisms to develop new precision medicines for neuropsychiatric disease. Arialys’ lead therapeutic candidate, ART5803, is being developed as a potential treatment for anti-NMDA receptor (“NMDAR”) encephalitis, a life-threatening neurological disease that causes severe psychosis. ART5803 also has potential to treat autoimmune psychosis and dementia.

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Source Company
Syndicate Partners
  • Avalon Ventures
  • MPM Capital
  • Johnson & Johnson Innovation – JJDC
  • Alexandria Venture

Three Questions Answered

Mitsuyuki “Mickey” Matsumoto, PhD
Mitsuyuki “Mickey” Matsumoto, PhD
Scientific Founder & CSO at Arialys
Former head of the Neuroscience Research Unit and Virtual Venture Unit Psychiatry at Astellas Pharma, Inc.
What is the unmet medical need addressed by Arialys’ lead asset?

Anti-NMDAR encephalitis is a severe autoimmune neurologic disease caused by anti-NMDAR autoantibodies. These autoantibodies induce crosslinking of NMDARs with their dual-arms and internalization leading to hypo-NMDAR status, which in turn induces both mental and motor abnormalities. Currently there are no approved treatments for anti-NMDAR encephalitis and only off-label therapies are available as non-specific immunological modulators with slow onset, insufficient efficacy, and infectious complication risks. Arialys’ lead asset, ART5803, is a novel anti-NMDAR single-arm Ab that blocks binding, and prevents internalization, of NMDAR autoantibodies. Arialys believes that ART5803 could be a first-in-class treatment option for anti-NMDAR encephalitis that can address the unmet medical needs of patients suffering from the disease.

Why did you choose to work with Catalys Pacific to license out your asset and have Arialys develop it worldwide?

I joined Arialys from Astellas Pharma, Inc. (“Astellas”), where I served as head of Neuroscience Research Unit and Virtual Venture Unit Psychiatry. Astellas was seeking a partner to license out global rights of the asset for internal strategic reasons. We identified significant potential in partnering with Catalys Pacific, along with Avalon BioVentures and MPM Capital, to explore further scientific breakthroughs by creating a bespoke NewCo for developing new precision medicines for autoimmune neuropsychiatric diseases. In that company creation process, Catalys Pacific’s on-the-ground team brought together world-class leadership with extensive knowledge and expertise in pharma, biotech and international syndicate relationships. We are confident that this transpacific partnership will enable us to pursue further scientific breakthroughs and ultimately maximize the value of the asset.

Do you think Japan can benefit further by developing assets through newly created venture-backed companies like Arialys?

Catalys Pacific, Avalon Ventures and MPM Capital founded Arialys to explore the etiology of autoimmunity for neurologic and neuropsychiatric disease. Many of the world’s leading experts in the integration of immunology and neurology were brought together to help form Arialys. It’s clear there are numerous Japanese pharmaceutical companies out there struggling to develop innovative assets with only their own resources to draw upon, and we saw how carving out our asset with Catalys Pacific to create Arialys would represent a productive and value-adding partnership. We therefore believe Arialys will be a good case study for demonstrating how Japanese pharma can advance new science and technology for patients via partnership with venture firms like Catalys Pacific and new biotech companies like Arialys.

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