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Takeda (TKPYY), VCs and NYC Institutions Form Bridge Medicines to Grow Biotech in the Big Apple

10/31/2016 8:29:49 AM

Takeda, VCs and NYC Institutions Form Bridge Medicines to Grow Biotech in the Big Apple October 31, 2016
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, Rockefeller University, and Weill Cornell Medical College, have teamed up with the drug company Takeda, and two New York-based venture capital firms, Bay City Capital and Deerfield Management, to launch Bridge Medicines.

Bridge Medicines is designed to extend the work of the independent, non-profit Tri-Institutional Therapeutics Discovery Institute (Tri-I TDI), which launched in 2013. Currently Tri-I TDI has about 50 early-stage drug discovery projects in a variety of areas, including infectious disease, oncology, neuropsychiatry and rare diseases. Projects in Tri-I TDI that are ready can graduate into Bridge Medicines, where they will receive support, both financial, operational and managerial, to go from proof-of-concept to in-human clinical trials.

“The launch of Bridge Medicines is a truly exciting development in New York’s biotechnology space,” said Michael Foley, Sanders Director of the Tri-I TDI, in a statement. “We’re tapping into the distinguished talent at Sloan Kettering, Rockefeller and Weill Cornell Medicine and offering entrepreneurs access to support what’s next in biopharmaceuticals. Bridge Medicines will enable us to advance promising projects farther down the development pipeline, providing new therapies to patients as quickly as possible.”

Ben Fidler, writing for Xconomy, says, “Bridge says its VCs will help create the business and scientific development plans for these drug prospects, and fund them to the point that they’re ready for clinical trials. Once the drugs get to that point, Bridge would then work with scientists to form startups that will own each of these individual projects and take them forward. The idea is that these companies will be based in New York City.”
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That’s at least part of the idea. Boston and San Francisco are the two biggest centers for biotech startups in the country, and New York has lagged behind. That isn’t to say that New York and New Jersey lag behind in life science jobs—it actually leads the country in total number of jobs, largely because of the large pharmaceutical presence in New Jersey. But it lags behind both Boston and the San Francisco Bay Area in terms of lab space, way behind in terms of venture capital, as well as in patents.

The large number of institutions and companies involved in Bridge Medicines helps spread the risk.

“As we looked ahead and beyond the current research climate, we knew this flagship collaboration would continue to push the boundaries of what’s possible in medical research,” said Andrew Plum, Takeda (TKPYY)’s chief medical and scientific officer, in a statement. “The establishment of Bridge Medicines is that next phase. Takeda is thrilled to be a partner in this innovative approach to further research and drug discovery for the benefit of more patients around the world.”

Bridges describes its mission and business model this way. “In current drug-development models, intellectual property is often sold or licensed to a pharmaceutical company when it is still a basic compound or antibody. This early stage is fraught with risk; companies may choose to discontinue a project if it doesn’t meet expectations during the clinical trial process—or the project may not find funding at all. The Tri-I TDI program reflects a different paradigm: Principal investigators collaborate with medicinal chemists from Takeda to demonstrate the therapeutic viability of new compounds through preclinical proof-of-concept studies.”

“Bridge Medicines’ mission,” said Foley in a statement, “is to increase the odds of successfully developing novel therapeutics to meet the needs of patients while simultaneously helping to build a vibrant biotechnology sector in New York City.”

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