Catabasis nails $32.4M for triglyceride-busting drug

Catabasis Pharmaceuticals CEO Jill Milne

Cambridge, MA's Catabasis Pharmaceuticals has landed a $32.4 million Series B to advance its triglyceride-fighting drug, setting sights on a swelling market with a compound the company believes can outperform its competitors.

With the cash, Catabasis will bankroll the development of lead asset CAT-2003, an oral omega-3 treatment designed to lower triglycerides and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol. The drug, developed through Catabasis' SMART Linker conjugation platform, targets severe hypertriglyceridemia, and CEO Jill Milne said CAT-2003 has a chance to stand alone among lipid-lowering therapies.

"We think, based on the data we have today, that it will be highly differentiated in triglycerides," Milne told FierceBiotech, citing the drug's "profound" effect on postmeal levels. "In addition, we also have a positive effect on LDL cholesterol. That makes it a really unique agent in this space."

In a Phase I study on 99 healthy patients, CAT-2003 significantly lowered fasting and postprandial triglyceride levels with no adverse events, all the while reducing plasma levels of PCSK9 and LDL cholesterol. Now, Catabasis is in the midst of a Phase II study for the drug, testing CAT-2003 alone on patients with hypertriglyceridemia and combining it with statins for hypercholesterolemia sufferers, expecting top-line data next year.

Once those results come through, Catabasis will hammer out the drug's ideal patient population and set out on Phase III, and the company expects its Series B cash to carry it into pivotal trials. From there, Catabasis plans to go it alone through the NDA and commercialization stages, Milne said.

The company's fundraising success in a tough venture climate is an affirmation of both its pipeline and its innovative development platform, Milne said, and Catabasis is fielding partnership offers from biotechs lured by SMART Linker's compound conjugation potential.

"One thing we've learned since the first Series A is that this technology platform has a lot of promise," Milne said. "We've been able to create a really robust pipeline of metabolic drugs, and the technology has the potential to support a self-sustaining biotech company."

New backer Lightstone Ventures led Catabasis' B round, joined by return investor SV Life Sciences, Clarus Ventures, MedImmune Ventures and Advanced Technology Ventures. The company closed a $47.6 million Series A in 2011.

Catabasis plans to divert some of its latest raise to developing its pipeline treatments, including CAT-1004, a Phase II-ready drug for inflammatory bowel disease, and CAT-4001, a preclinical compound that targets psoriasis.

- read the press release

Special Report: FierceBiotech's 2010 Fierce 15 - Catabasis Pharmaceuticals