Biogen Idec takes stake in biotech startup

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Biogen Idec Inc. is targeting a yet-untreated disease that affects 150,000 Americans while seeking to expand its business of producing drugs for neurological disorders by investing in a Cambridge biotechnology startup.

Biogen on Monday said that it has joined Cambridge venture capital firm Atlas Venture in a $17 million investment in Ataxion, Inc., a year-old company that is seeking a treatment for ataxia, a disease that causes difficulties walking, speaking, and performing daily activities and can lead to immobility and a reduced lifespan.

Biogen has the option of buying out other shareholders, including Atlas, and acquiring Ataxion if certain milestones are achieved, although it's unclear when that might happen. Other terms of the deal were not disclosed.

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