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Inflammation Drug Biotech Lands $32.4M in Venture Funding

Loose bills of multiple denominations (borman818)

(borman818/Flickr)

Catabasis Pharmaceuticals Inc., a clinical-stage biotechnology company in Cambridge, Massachusetts, completed its second venture funding round, securing $32.4 million. The round was led by new investor Lightstone Ventures, with participation by the company’s current investors: SV Life Sciences, Clarus Ventures, MedImmune Ventures, and Advanced Technology Ventures.

Catabasis Pharmaceuticals develops medications to treat cardiovascular, metabolic and inflammatory diseases, with a technology based on the research of Steven Shoelson of Harvard Medical School and Joslin Diabetes Center. Shoelson, a co-founder of the company in 2008, conducts research on the key role of inflammation linking obesity to insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

The platform at Catabasis to develop its therapies is called Safely Metabolized And Rationally Targeted or SMART linker technology that targets multiple points along particular disease pathways. Linkers, says the company, are small sub-molecular components that connect therapeutic molecules, but remain inactive in the bloodstream until they reach the target cells at various points along the pathway.

Once at their targets, the drug molecules are broken off into their active components where they can have an immediate therapeutic impact.  The company says this technology makes it possible to produce drugs that address their targets more precisely, with greater safety and fewer adverse effects.

Catabasis has two candidate compounds in clinical trials. Its lead candidate, CAT-2003 that addresses a pathway synthesizing fatty acids is in intermediate-stage trials as a treatment for hypertriglyceridemia, a condition where triglyceride levels become elevated as a result of diabetes or obesity. Another trial is testing the compound in combination with statins to treat high levels of cholesterol in the blood.

Another compound, CAT-1004, completed early stage trials as a treatment for inflammatory bowel disease. CAT-1004 targets a key pathway that responds to signals triggering inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract. The company expects to use the proceeds from the funding round to continue these trials as well as advance compounds still in the preclinical
stage.

The lead investor in the financing is Lightstone Ventures, a venture capital company in Palo Alto, California that specializes in life sciences enterprises, mainly early-stage companies.

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Hat tip: Fortune/Term Sheet

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