The UK-US biotech NodThera has raised €48.7M in Series B funding to progress its drug candidate through clinical trials for the treatment of inflammatory conditions such as inflammatory bowel disease.
This round follows an impressive €32M Series A that Nodthera carried out in 2018. Danish firm Novo Ventures, part of the investment arm of Novo Nordisk and Novozymes, led the round. Two new investors, US-based Cowen Healthcare Investments and Sanofi Ventures — the investment arm of French big pharma Sanofi — joined the round. A number of existing investors such as Sofinnova Partners and Epidarex Capital also participated.
NodThera is targeting several inflammatory conditions including the liver disease non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, scarring or fibrosis in the lungs due to inflammation, neurodegenerative disease, and inflammatory bowel disease.
These conditions may not be obviously linked, but they all involve excessive activation of a multi-protein complex called the NLRP3 inflammasome. This complex regulates the release of two pro-inflammatory proteins that normally help the body to get rid of infection or heal tissue damage.
“The NLRP3 inflammasome can sometimes become chronically activated due to overstimulation by danger signals, leading to chronic inflammation and disease,” Adam Keeney, President and CEO of NodThera, explained.
“This improper activation has been implicated in a wide array of diseases, from fibrosis…to inflammatory bowel disease, neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, and certain cancers.”
Research suggests that selectively blocking the action of the NLRP3 inflammasome can help treat the overactivation seen in patients with certain inflammatory diseases. NodThera’s lead candidate is a small molecule NLRP3 inhibitor that is currently being tested in a phase I trial in healthy volunteers to assess safety, following successful inhibition of NLRP3 in preclinical studies.
In addition to progressing its lead candidate further through clinical trials, the company plans to develop new compounds. It is particularly keen to develop drug candidates that can cross the blood-brain barrier and be used to treat neurological conditions where NLRP3 is overactivated.
While the first half of 2020 has proved challenging for many companies due to Covid-19, NodThera is confident it can still progress its technology and clinical trials as planned.
“Though everyone has been impacted in some way by Covid-19, over the course of the past few months we have been able to progress with our financing goal and close this round of financing, which we believe is a testament to the interest in our science and progress made with the portfolio,” Keeney told me.
“We have put contingency plans in place that have allowed the portfolio to progress, which reassured the investors that we will weather the COVID-19 storm without major impacts in terms of future company milestones.”
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