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Dutch biotech firm NorthSea Therapeutics has secured a €25m Series A funding to develop a structurally engineered fatty acid (SEFA), icosabutate, for treating non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

The funding round was led by Forbion and BGV, and included participation from Novo Holdings’ early-stage investment arm Novo Seeds and New Science Ventures.

Licensed by the firm from Pronova BioPharma Norge, icosabutate is reported to have demonstrated a favourable safety and effectiveness profile in two previous Phase II clinical trials conducted to treat hypertriglyceridemia.

The latest funding will be used to study icosabutate in a Phase IIb trial for the treatment of NASH, and to develop the compound to Phase III readiness such as CMC development, clinical and non-clinical toxicology studies.

NorthSea Therapeutics CEO Rob de Ree said: “At its inception, NorthSea Therapeutics has all the ingredients for success in the competitive NASH space.

“At its inception, NorthSea Therapeutics has all the ingredients for success in the competitive NASH space.”

“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.

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“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.”

NASH is characterised by inflammation and damage to the liver caused due to deposition of a high amount of fat in the liver cells.

Progression of this condition is said to result in fibrosis, cirrhosis, high risk of liver failure, hepatocellular cancer and need for liver transplantation.