Third Rock Ventures Leads Investment with Additional Financing from Clal Biotechnology Industries and Access Industries
Company Assembles World Experts to Develop Therapies that Leverage the Power of Neoantigens to Attack Tumors
Cambridge, Mass. – October 1, 2015 – Third Rock Ventures, LLC today announced the formation of Neon Therapeutics, an immuno-oncology company developing neoantigen-based therapeutic vaccines and T cell therapies to treat cancer. Neon Therapeutics is focused on unlocking the full potential of the immune system to recognize and attack cancer via targeting proteins known as neoantigens. By leveraging neoantigen biology to elicit a potent immune attack on tumors, Neon Therapeutics’ pipeline has the potential to significantly influence the course of cancer and provide durable responses to patients in need. Clal Biotechnology Industries and Access Industries joined Third Rock Ventures in the $55 million Series A financing.
Neoantigens result from mutations occurring during tumor growth, are recognized as foreign and differ from native antigens to which the immune system is tolerant. Mounting evidence suggests that immune rejection of tumors, for example that which is seen with checkpoint modulators, may be mediated by recognition of neoantigens. Neon Therapeutics is building a product engine poised to take full advantage of neoantigen biology. The company is developing multiple programs in therapeutic vaccines and T cell modalities, targeting both neoantigens that are specific to individual patients as well as neoantigens that are shared across patients and tumor types. Neon Therapeutics is committed to advancing the field of cancer immunotherapy by investing in research to improve identification and delivery of the most effective neoantigens in order to optimize neoantigen-directed T cell activity and to monitor patients treated with immunotherapies.
“Recent advances in immuno-oncology place us at a point that is unprecedented in the history of cancer drug development,” said Cary Pfeffer, M.D., interim chief executive officer of Neon Therapeutics. “We have a completely new understanding of the immune system’s role in unlocking powerful mechanisms to induce immune attack of tumors, representing an enormous opportunity for precision therapies for cancer patients. These insights enable Neon Therapeutics to develop therapies that are complementary to current immunomodulatory therapies and may significantly enhance the specificity and potency of existing approaches.”
“There is mounting evidence that supports the role of neoantigens in tumor rejection,” said Robert Tepper, M.D., Neon Therapeutics’ interim chief scientific officer. “Neon
Therapeutics aspires to be the leading company focused on neoantigen targeting for therapeutic applications, and we have assembled the world’s best experts to tackle this problem to provide new treatments for patients facing life-threatening cancers.”
Neon Therapeutics was founded by globally-recognized experts in neoantigen biology, tumor immunology, vaccinology and personalized therapeutics. These founders have already made significant contributions to the Neon Therapeutics’ plan and strategy, and bring complementary expertise to guide the future of the company. Founders include:
- James Allison, Ph.D., MD Anderson Cancer Center
- Ed Fritsch, Ph.D., Neon Therapeutics
- Nir Hacohen, Ph.D., Broad Institute and Massachusetts General Hospital
- Eric Lander, Ph.D., Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
- Robert Schreiber, Ph.D., Washington University
- Ton Schumacher, Ph.D., Netherlands Cancer Institute
- Catherine Wu, M.D., Broad Institute and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Neon Therapeutics’ lead program, NEO-PV-01, is a personalized neoantigen vaccine that builds upon initial clinical trials developed collaboratively by the Broad Institute and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute under the leadership of Dr. Catherine Wu, and philanthropically funded in part by the Blavatnik Family Foundation. The company will build upon ongoing research by initiating a company-sponsored clinical development program, while also supporting the ongoing clinical trials at Dana-Farber and potentially other leading academic institutions. In addition, Neon Therapeutics will also develop personalized T cell therapies that leverage the strengths of its platforms in epitope prediction and immune monitoring. The contributions from world-leading experts in core scientific advances in neoantigen biology have paved the way for the founding of Neon Therapeutics, and the company plans to work closely with them moving forward to bring new therapies to patients.
About Neon Therapeutics
Neon Therapeutics is an immuno-oncology company focused on developing novel therapeutics leveraging neoantigen biology to treat cancer. A neoantigen-based product engine will allow Neon to develop further treatment modalities including next-generation vaccines and T cell therapies targeting both personalized as well as shared neoantigens. Neon Therapeutics’ lead program is a personalized neoantigen vaccine that builds upon years of research and development at the Broad Institute and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and is already in multiple clinical trials. For more information, please visit www.neontherapeutics.com.
About Clal Biotechnology Industries
Clal Biotechnology Industries (TASE: CBI) is a specialized holding company, which identifies and supports promising biotechnology companies with proprietary solutions to unmet medical needs, approaching large potential markets. Holding and managing an international portfolio of some twenty promising companies, Clal Biotechnology Industries undertakes significant investments and applies diverse models of strategic cooperation. For more information, please visit www.cbi.co.il.
About Access Industries
Access Industries is a privately held industrial group with long-term holdings worldwide. The company’s industrial focus spans four primary sectors: Natural resources and chemicals, media and telecommunications, real estate, and technology and e-commerce. Founded in 1986 by Len Blavatnik, an American entrepreneur and philanthropist, Access is an international industrial concern with strategic investments in the United States, Europe and South America. Over the years, Mr. Blavatnik and the Blavatnik Family Foundation have provided significant support for cancer vaccine research and development at the Broad Institute and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. The company has corporate offices in New York, London and Moscow. For more information, please visit www.accessindustries.com.
About Third Rock Ventures
Third Rock Ventures is the leading healthcare venture firm focused on disruptive areas of science and medicine to discover, launch and build companies that make a dramatic difference in people’s lives. By combining our team’s scientific vision, strategic leadership, operational expertise and innovative deal-making capabilities, we nurture bold ideas that translate into successful business enterprises. Recognizing that the best way to create value for our investors is to create value for patients, our companies are built on a solid foundation of science, medicine, people and business strategy. For more information, please visit www.thirdrockventures.com.
About the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard
The Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard was launched in 2004 to empower this generation of creative scientists to transform medicine. The Broad Institute seeks to describe all the molecular components of life and their connections; discover the molecular basis of major human diseases; develop effective new approaches to diagnostics and therapeutics; and disseminate discoveries, tools, methods and data openly to the entire scientific community. Founded by MIT, Harvard and its affiliated hospitals, and the visionary Los Angeles philanthropists Eli and Edythe L. Broad, the Broad Institute includes faculty, professional staff and students from throughout the MIT and Harvard biomedical research communities and beyond, with collaborations spanning over a hundred private and public institutions in more than 40 countries worldwide. For more information, please visit broadinstitute.org.
About Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, a principal teaching affiliate of Harvard Medical School, is world-renowned for its leadership in adult and pediatric cancer treatment and research. Designated as a comprehensive cancer center by the National Cancer Institute (NCI), it is one of the largest recipients among independent hospitals of NCI and National Institutes of Health grant funding. For more information, please visit www.dana-farber.org.
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