Former Solvay Pharma Chief Takes Lead Role at Startup Selecta Biosciences

Xconomy Boston — 

A former pharmaceutical chief has taken the top job at Watertown, MA-based biotech startup Selecta Biosciences, a developer of nanoparticle vaccine technology. Werner Cautreels began work as chief executive of the startup in recent weeks, just months after leading one of the larger acquisition deals in the pharma industry this year.

At the same time, Selecta says it won a $3 million grant from the NIH’s National Institute of Drug Abuse to research an advanced nicotine vaccine for people addicted to cigarettes (more on that below). The grant builds on the $33 million the two-year-old startup has raised from such venture investors as Flagship Ventures, Leukon Investments, NanoDimension, OrbiMed Advisors, and Polaris Venture Partners.

Cautreels, 57, was previously the CEO of Belgium-based Solvay Pharmaceuticals, until shortly after health products giant Abbott Laboratories (NYSE:ABT) bought his company for $6.6 billion in February. His new job is a switch from a big company with lots of products and resources to a 25-employee outfit in pre-clinical development. But the startup’s new chief says there are perks to being at a young company versus an older one.

“The change is rather positive,” Cautreels says. It’s “more dynamic, less red tape, more direct contact with people.”

Bob Bratzler, who had served as executive chairman of Selecta since its founding in 2008, resigned from that post several months ago, according to the company. The firm did not have a … Next Page »

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