CAMBRIDGE, Mass.-- 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.
"Both Jill Milne and Mike Jirousek, co-founders of Catabasis, bring deep scientific expertise and successful track records to the company's management team."
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."
Catabasis is dedicated to the discovery and development of innovative, effective and safe medicines to treat inflammatory and metabolic diseases. The company has assembled a team of passionate and experienced scientists who are committed to improving the lives of patients. Using its proprietary Catabasis SMART-linker technology, Catabasis has developed a pipeline of molecules that amplify the beneficial effects of salicylates and omega-3 fatty acids to target the underlying etiologies of a spectrum of complex human diseases. The Catabasis approach dramatically enhances the therapeutic potential of DHA and EPA, two essential fatty acids found in fish oil, by improving the delivery, potency and efficacy. Catabasis was founded in 2008 and is headquartered in Cambridge, Mass. More information on the company can be found on its website at www.catabasispharma.com.
SV Life Sciences is a leading international life sciences venture capital firm. SVLS affiliated funds have been investing in life-sciences companies since the early 1980s and the firm closed its first dedicated life-sciences fund in 1994. The SVLS team manages five venture capital funds and a publicly traded investment trust with approximately $2 billion of capital under management. The firm employs a diversified strategy within life sciences in order to selectively capitalize on an expanding opportunity in biotech, medical devices and health-care services. SVLS has offices in Boston, London and San Francisco. Visit www.svlsa.com for more information.
About Clarus Ventures
Clarus Ventures is a global life sciences venture capital firm founded by a team of accomplished investment professionals with extensive and complementary industry backgrounds which have enabled them to establish a long history of success in creating value. Their deep relationships with world thought leaders and decision makers allow this team to identify unique investment opportunities and shepherd them to maturity. Clarus augments its core expertise of investing in biopharmaceuticals and medical technology companies with the deep and diverse expertise of the team in research and development, commercialization, business development and operations management at the global level. Clarus has $1.2 billion of assets under management across two life sciences dedicated funds. For additional information on Clarus Ventures, please visit www.clarusventures.com.
About MedImmune Ventures, Inc.
MedImmune Ventures is a wholly owned venture capital fund within the AstraZeneca/MedImmune group of companies. It was created in 2002 to leverage MedImmune's expertise in discovering, developing and commercializing biotechnology products, as well as its financial resources, to transform new ideas in biotechnology into successful products and companies. MedImmune Ventures invests in early- to late-stage, public or private biotechnology companies focused on discovering and developing human therapeutics. MedImmune Ventures primarily seeks to invest in areas of strategic interest to AstraZeneca and MedImmune, including infectious diseases, cancer, inflammatory diseases, cardiovascular and metabolic disorders, pain and central nervous system disorders. MedImmune Ventures invests in biologics, small molecules, and vaccines. Visit www.medimmune.com/ventures for more information.
About Advanced Technology Ventures
Advanced Technology Ventures (ATV) is a bi-coastal venture capital firm with more than $1.8 billion in capital under management. The firm works with entrepreneurial teams in several technology markets, including IT, healthcare and cleantech, to transform emerging growth companies into market leaders. Founded in 1979, ATV has an established track record of success helping to build strong, sustainable companies. Visit www.atvcapital.com for more information.