NodThera Snags $40 Million in Financing to Target Diseases Driven by Chronic Inflammation

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Nodthera, a U.K.-based startup, snagged $40 million (£28 million) in Series A funding to drive research and development of next-generation NLRP3 inflammasome inhibitors that will be used to treat diseases that are driven by chronic inflammation.

Inflammasomes are multiprotein oligomers that are responsible for the activation of inflammatory responses. Activation of an inflammasome assembly leads to the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, IL-1 and IL-18. NodThera, which was founded in 2016, notes on its website that inappropriately activated inflammasomes are implicated in a number of diseases, including arthritis, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and certain cancer. When the company was launched two years ago, NodThera noted that selective inhibition of the NLRP3 inflammasome holds greater therapeutics potential rather than downstream cytokines. One reason is due to safety. The company said selective NLRP3 inhibitors leaves the rest of the innate immune response intact to respond to infection. NLRP3 inhibitors can be made to target different tissues and organs thereby giving a broad disease application, and they can be taken orally providing a simple treatment regimen for patients, the company noted.

NodThera said its “next-generation approach,” which is based on earlier research conducted at the Polish drug discovery company Selvita, is capable of providing new treatment options for patients who currently have “sub-optimal or non-existent” options.

Alan Watt, chief scientific officer and acting chief executive officer of NodThera, said in a statement that selective NLRP3 inflammasome inhibition “represents one of the most exciting and promising approaches to treating diseases caused by chronic inflammation.” Watt, who has had stints at Merck and GlaxoSmithKline, said he and the company believe the approach taken by NodThera has the potential to provide new treatment options to patients that currently have limited choices in addressing their illnesses. The NodThera strategy is to develop its leading drug candidate through to proof-of-concept in humans in an inflammatory disease and to bring forward further drug candidates specifically addressing high unmet medical needs such as neurodegenerative diseases and certain cancers.

“NodThera is committed to discovering and developing first-in-class molecules in our core disease areas, and working with the best partners in this space to address other chronic inflammation driven therapeutic areas. Together with our highly experienced management team, a strong scientific advisory board and the support of our international blue-chip investors, we are fully equipped to achieve our future goals,” Watt said.

The Series A financing was co-led by leading healthcare investors Sofinnova Partners and 5AM Ventures, with further participation from Epidarex Capital (which provided the seed funding for the company) and F-Prime Capital Partners.

Elizabeth Roper, a partner at Epidarex Capital, noted that the investment firm saw the potential of NodThera to become a pioneer in the NLRP3 inflammasome space with the right approach to produce groundbreaking products targeting multiple therapeutic areas.

With the Series A funding, Henrijette Richter, the managing partner of Sofinnova Partners and Scott Rocklage, a founding partner of 5AM Ventures, will both join the Board of Directors. Richter will serve as chairman of the board.

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