Catabasis, Led by Sirtris Vets, Seeks to Fight Diabetes by Controlling Inflammation

4/21/10Follow @xconomy

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that are said to be good for you. Those compounds are thought to work by triggering natural anti-inflammatory pathways. But the same dosing problem existed there. So Milne and Jirousek, trained in biochemistry and chemistry, respectively, wondered what would happen in if they could combine salicylate with Omega-3 fatty acids. Could those two types of drugs be combined in a low-dose, convenient, once-daily pill? The drugs ought to be more tolerable together at lower doses, they reasoned.

“We figured if we could bring them together, there would be synergy,” Milne says.

That’s what Catabasis has been doing since the summer of 2008. Milne and Jirousek developed what they call “SMART-linker” technology which attaches the compounds together into a dual-action drug that is considered a new chemical entity. Catabasis didn’t license this technology from anywhere—it was developed in-house over the past 18 months, Milne says. The patent applications have been submitted, and some early animal experiments are in from six different models of inflammation.

The investors have placed their bets that Catabasis can make enough progress to bring its lead drug candidate into its first clinical trials as soon as 2011. And while the company is concentrating on making progress with that lead candidate, Milne also stressed that Catabasis has a platform technology that it wants to further develop as a source of other drugs against inflammation diseases, like inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

Catabasis currently has seven employees. With the new financing in hand, it plans to add four or five more people this year with skills in pharmacology, clinical development, and biology, Milne says. Much of their work in the near future will be about showing progress against Type 2 diabetes, but also about showing that these combination anti-inflammatory drugs can be made into safe, once-daily pills that have potential against other diseases that affect millions of people.

“This technology is unique in its ability to treat other diseases,” Milne says. “That’s what got me excited.”

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