Selecta Biosciences has turned to a veteran of the pharma world to lead it through the startup phase. Werner Cautreels, who helmed Solvay Pharmaceuticals through its $6.6 billion sale to Abbott in February, is taking the reins at Selecta, which is developing new nanoparticle vaccine technology pioneered by Bob Langer at MIT.
A chemist by training who came up the corporate ladder through the R&D side of the development business, Cautreels had a seasonal flu vaccine in Solvay's product mix when Abbott bought the company. But Selecta is developing a new vaccine that is made synthetically, opening the door to a new production process which can rapidly ramp up supplies. And the company is targeting a new nicotine vaccine as one of its lead products.
Watertown, MA-based Selecta is getting some help from the feds for its nicotine vaccine. At the same time the company announced its selection of Cautreels for the top job, Selecta also revealed that it had won a $3 million grant from the National Institute of Drug Abuse.
"We view a nicotine vaccine as one of our promising programs that are poised to advance into human clinical trials based on our progress with Selecta's technology platform," said Cautreels. The money, he added, would be used to select a vaccine candidate and get it into the clinic. Selecta has 25 employees and Cautreels plans a few new hires to round out its staff roster.