Catabasis boosts Series A to $47.6M as it zeroes in on Amarin rival

Cambridge, MA-based Catabasis Pharmaceuticals has scored an additional $8 million for its Series A, pushing the first round to $47.6 million as the developer advances a second omega-3 drug program through a Phase I study ahead of schedule.

Back in 2010, when Catabasis was named a Fierce 15 company, CEO Jill Milne's timeline called for a second program to get underway in 2012. But backers at SV Life Sciences, Clarus Ventures, MedImmune Ventures and Advanced Technology Ventures have opted to gas up early to fuel clinical work on CAT-2003, an early-stage omega-3 conjugated compound designed to fight hypertriglyceridemia--the same cardiovascular target Amarin ($AMRN) is zeroing in on with the closely watched AMR101. Catabasis's first omega-3 drug program is focused on diabetes, which is slated to move into a mid-stage study in the first half of next year.

"In CAT-2003 we identified a molecule in preclinical studies which is superior to anything we've seen out there in the clinic," says company co-founder Mike Jirousek, making it clear that the biotech believes it has the potential to take on Amarin's treatment if AMR101--designed to extract high levels of fat in the blood--goes on to win an approval. "This is a new option for hypertriglyceridemia. The data has been so exciting around the second program, it's something I think everyone wants us to pursue in parallel rather than in tandem."

Catabasis has been growing at a brisk pace, bringing their staff numbers up to 20 over the past year and planning another 10 hires or so by the end of next year, says Milne. Next year the biotech will look for a potential partner on the diabetes program, and the CEO notes that the deal numbers would influence whether--and how much--Catabasis might seek in a Series B round.

- here's the press release

Special Report: Catabasis Pharmaceuticals - 2010 Fierce 15