Vesalius, Rondo Debut to Redefine Treatment Paradigms
A new month brings a fresh new crop of innovators to the biopharma industry.
Flagship Pioneering has launched a new company with the goal of redefining how 90% of human diseases are addressed and treated.
Vesalius Therapeutics, the new firm, will operate on the DIAMOND platform, which uses machine learning and artificial intelligence to separate patients into groups, much like a prism, to gain a deeper understanding of disease compositions. Segregation will be based on parameters such as shared symptoms, biology, genetics and more.
Flagship will pour in $75 million into Vesalius to support its beginnings. The new company will be led by Christopher Austin, M.D. as chief executive officer. Austin was the founding director of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the National Institutes of Health. He joined Flagship in March 2021 as CEO-partner. As part of its programs and platform growth plans, Vesalius is poised to hire over 200 more people in the next two years.
The DIAMOND platform creates patient-derived experimental systems to characterize and screen drug candidates to restore circuits to their healthy state. Vesalius is confident of seeing new treatment pathways for previously intractable illnesses with this approach.
The technology aims to address the current norm where many of the illnesses affecting millions fall under a single diagnosis, like diabetes, which then covers different types of diseases across various biological causes. This often leads to unique symptoms due to genetic differences, meaning that many patients have the same diagnoses they are not really suffering from the same illness.
"Common illnesses are not monolithic, they are actually a constellation of multiple genetically and biologically distinct diseases that affect patients differently. Our DIAMOND platform enables us to elucidate these defined groups of patients and understand their shared biology to home in on the right therapeutic for the right group of patients. By distilling patient groups by their shared symptoms, genetics, and biology, we believe we can improve the chances of successfully developing medicines for prevalent diseases," Austin commented in a statement.
Vesalius was founded in 2019 in Flagship Labs, combining human data, genetics and genomics, AI, machine learning and experimental models to define common illnesses. Flagship was only launched in 2000 but has rapidly grown since, originating and fostering over 100 scientific ventures. Its current network includes 42 transformative companies, including Codiak BioSciences, Axcella Health, Evelia Biosciences, Foghorn Therapeutics and Denali Therapeutics.
In other news, biopharmaceutical firm Rondo Therapeutics raised $67 million from its Series A financing round to support the development of its preclinical pipeline covering bispecific antibody candidates. Rondo's projects are focused on discovering and creating immunotherapy approaches to treat solid tumors by leveraging its proprietary immuno-stimulatory platform.
"T-cell engagers targeting CD3 have successfully exploited the first signal in T-cell receptor signaling to treat liquid tumors, significantly expanding the treatment options for these cancers. However, solid tumors represent a much greater unmet clinical need that has yet to benefit from advances in immune-engaging bispecific antibodies. At Rondo we are building an exceptional team to develop unique bispecific platforms that stimulate a variety of downstream immune pathways with the intent of treating solid tumors," commented Rondo Co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer Nathan Trinklein, Ph.D. in a statement.
Red Tree Venture Capital and Canaan Partners co-led the funding round, with support from Johnson & Johnson Innovation, Novo Holdings and SV Health Investors.