The company was founded based on research performed at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm and the discovery of a group of compounds that target the IGF-1 receptor signaling pathway without affecting signaling from the closely related insulin receptor. 

The company’s lead drug candidate, AXL1717, is an orally bioavailable small molecule with dual mechanisms of action, which has been shown to pass through the blood-brain barrier. AXL1717 targets the IGF-1R signaling pathway but does not bind the IGF-1R. AXL1717 has also been shown to induce cell cycle arrest in mitosis, due to indirect effects on microtubule dynamics, making it a unique anti-cancer drug.

After receiving orphan drug designation for AXL1717 for the treatment of glioma from both FDA and EMA in 2017, Axelar is now planning to build on the results in animal studies and previous Phase I/II clinical studies in non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) and glioblastoma. Further clinical trials are underway, using a new capsule formulation of AXL1717 that has been developed 2015-2017 in collaboration with Cadila Pharmaceutical Ltd (patent pending).