Catabasis Pharmaceuticals, a biopharmaceutical company developing novel therapeutics for the treatment of inflammatory and metabolic diseases, today announced it has completed a $39.6 million Series A financing led by SV Life Sciences, Clarus Ventures, and MedImmune Ventures. Also participating in the round is Advanced Technology Ventures. Proceeds from the financing will be used to advance Catabasis' lead program targeting type 2 diabetes, and to further the development of the company's proprietary platform technology in additional inflammatory and metabolic diseases.
“We are pleased to have co-led the A round of financing for Catabasis. There remains a significant unmet need in terms of the treatment of the inflammatory component of type 2 diabetes, which affects almost 24 million people in the U.S.”
Catabasis was founded in 2008 by two experienced executives and drug developers Jill Milne, Ph.D., Catabasis' chief executive officer, and Mike Jirousek, Ph.D., Catabasis' chief scientific officer, as well as Steven Shoelson, M.D., Ph.D., Harvard Medical School and Joslin Diabetes Center, on an approach that focuses on targeting inflammation to treat complex human diseases. Dr. Shoelson is an internationally recognized expert in diabetes research and has authored several recent studies showing that salsalate - a prodrug form of salicylate with anti-inflammatory activity - improves glucose homeostasis in people living with type 2 diabetes. These insights are a key area of focus for Catabasis.
"Catabasis is using its novel, proprietary SMART-linker technology platform to develop potent and effective medicines to treat inflammation by harnessing the therapeutic potential of salicylate and the beneficial effects of omega-3 fatty acids to simultaneously inhibit pro-inflammatory pathways and activate anti-inflammatory pathways," stated Jill Milne, Ph.D., co-founder and chief executive officer of Catabasis Pharmaceuticals. "We are very pleased to have the support of this top-tier venture syndicate and resources to rapidly advance our platform and our pipeline. Based on our progress to date, we expect to file an investigational new drug application in 2011."
"We are pleased to have co-led the A round of financing for Catabasis. There remains a significant unmet need in terms of the treatment of the inflammatory component of type 2 diabetes, which affects almost 24 million people in the U.S.," said Mike Ross, managing partner at SV Life Sciences. "Both Jill Milne and Mike Jirousek, co-founders of Catabasis, bring deep scientific expertise and successful track records to the company's management team."
Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA/EPA) have shown clinical utility in a wide range of human diseases including atherosclerosis, dyslipidemia and other inflammatory diseases. Using its SMART-linker technology platform, Catabasis is able to bring together the clinically proven activities of salicylate and omega-3 fatty acids and, as a result, amplify the beneficial effects of both compounds. The company is developing small molecules that would be orally available and effective with once-daily dosing. Catabasis' lead candidates have demonstrated excellent activity in a number of preclinical models of inflammation and autoimmune diseases. The company has an extensive patent portfolio owned exclusively by Catabasis.
The company's scientific advisory board includes scientific leaders in the field of type 2 diabetes, immunology, and inflammation. They include co-founder Steven Shoelson M.D, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School and Joslin Diabetes Center; Jerry Olefsky, M.D., University of California San Diego and founder of Metabolex, Inc.; Diane Mathis, Ph.D., Harvard Medical School, member, National Academy of Sciences and founder of Tempero Pharmaceuticals; C. Ronald Kahn, M.D. Harvard Medical School, Joslin Diabetes Center and member, National Academy of Sciences; Ruslan Medzhitov, Ph.D., Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Yale University and founder of VaxInnate; and Ben Cravatt, Ph.D., Scripps Research Institute and founder of ActivX Biosciences, Inc.
"Type 2 diabetes rates continue to skyrocket and we need to explore new safe and effective therapeutic approaches to treat the root cause of the disease," said Dr. Shoelson. "Recent studies suggest that salsalate may provide a new avenue for treatment in type 2 diabetes. Catabasis is 'rethinking' inflammation by pairing salicylate and omega-3 fatty acids to produce synergistic efficacy. This should target the inflammatory pathways that contribute to the pathogenesis of many diseases, including type 2 diabetes, thereby returning the body to homeostasis or balance."
Catabasis' board of directors includes leading experts in the life sciences industry with an outstanding track record of building biopharmaceutical companies. The board of directors includes Jill Milne, Catabasis chief executive officer; Mike Ross, Ph.D., managing partner at SV Life Sciences; Jeff Leiden, M.D., Ph.D., managing director at Clarus Ventures; and Maggie Flanagan LeFlore, Ph.D., managing director at MedImmune Ventures, Inc.
Maggie Flanagan LeFlore, managing director at MedImmune Ventures, commented, "Type 2 diabetes is an area of high unmet need and a key therapeutic area of interest to AstraZeneca. We are impressed with the advances that the company has made in this early stage of development." Clarus' Jeff Leiden added, "Catabasis' proprietary technology platform has many opportunities for additional drug leads in a number of different inflammatory and metabolic diseases with large unmet need."