Ex-Dezima CEO co-founds NASH startup, flying into Phase IIB with €25 million

Rob de Ree

A new Dutch biotech, co-founded and led by the former CEO of Dezima, is launching with €25 million in startup capital from prominent European investors to develop an oral drug for NASH.

The Series A round was led by Forbion and BGV, with Novo Seeds and New Science Ventures joining in.

The company, NorthSea Therapeutics or NST, is developing a structurally-engineered fatty acid called icosabutate. Since the drug candidate has already proven to be safe and effective in two past Phase II clinical trials for hypertriglyceridemia, NST is flying straight into Phase IIb trials in NASH.

“At its inception NorthSea Therapeutics has all the ingredients for success in the competitive NASH space,” said CEO Rob de Ree in a statement. “It has a promising and clinically-tested compound, a team with experienced drug developers, world-leading experts in the field with a good access to clinical trial sites and backing by a strong syndicate of investors. We believe icosabutate has the potential to impact the lives of millions of NASH patients globally, for whom there are currently little treatment options available.”

The drug was licensed from Pronova Biopharma along with a library of other structurally-engineered fatty acids, according to NST’s statement. NST’s chief scientific officer and co-founder David Fraser and VP of chemistry and co-founder Tore Skjæret also come from Pronova, where they both worked in lead R&D roles.

NST’s C-suite is full of interesting names. De Ree was formerly the chief executive at Dezima, the company Amgen scooped up for a whopping $1.55 billion (and then later regretted). Then there’s chief medical officer Patrick Round, who was CMO and CEO of Xention Limited, which conducted all the development work for Dezima.

After this new financing, NST gets a bunch of new board members: Forbion’s Sander Slootweg (Chair), Forbian’s Marco Boorsma, Novo Seeds’ Søren Møller and New Science Ventures’ Somu Subramaniam (NSV). They join de Ree and NSTs COO Hilde Steineger, along with independent board member John Kastelein.

The company expects to be Phase IIb-ready by the end of 2018.

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
Director of Operations
Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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