NatCure Sciences, a biotech startup looking to set up offices in Cambridge or Boston this year, is seeking to raise venture funds this quarter as it works to develop a treatment that would rival a standard anti-inflammatory drug on the market.
NatCure founder Harout DerSimonian says he began the fundraising effort this month with local and national venture capital and angel investors, with the hopes of raising seed funding of between $1.5 million to $2.5 million. The money would get the startup through all preclinical work over the next two years, he said.
The potential NatCure treatment is based on a plant that originated in Africa, DerSimonian said. The plant contains a compound that could lead to a new type of anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive treatment, useful for autoimmunity and transplantation, he said.
The treatment would be an improvement, he says, because it appears to have less side effects than ciclosporin (discovered by Sandoz, now Novartis). Unlike ciclosporin, which can’t be given orally, the NatCure treatment is water soluble and thus can be given orally, DerSimonian said.
The treatment could potentially have better absorption as well, and may require less drug concentrations needed for potency, he said.
“We now need more data — need to identify what the molecule is to be able to do preclinical studies,” DerSimonian said.
DerSimonian, who lives in Maine, said he plans to set up a Boston area office for the startup after raising investment funds. He holds a Ph.D. in immunology from Tufts University, and his background includes six years as a fellow a Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, three years as an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and eight years as a principal investigator at Diacrin/GenVec Inc