A Look at 4 People Molding Kendall Square's Future

A Look at 4 People Molding Kendall Square's Future May 6, 2016
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Kendall Square. Those in the biotech world recognize that neighborhood as (arguably) the hottest real estate in the country due to the high volume of pharma innovation taking place there. But what companies are driving that? StatNews recently highlighted four entrepreneurs and companies shaping the future of Kendall Square—a future that is very bright.

Katrine Bosley

Gene therapy technology company Editas Medicine, helmed by Katrine Bosley, is using its CRISPR-Cas9 technology to target disease and autoimmune disorders. Earlier this year the company went public in February and shares of the stock have mostly risen throughout the first quarter of the year. Shares are currently trading at $31.54 per share. The company is moving toward the clinic targeting an inherited blindness disorder.

Philip Sharp

One of the founding fathers of Kendall Square, Philip Sharp helped launch Biogen and booming Alnylam . Sharp’s research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology led to the discovery of gene splicing, which is a hot method for addressing disease. His work directly led to Alnylam’s experimental and ground-breaking RNAi therapeutics, which is helping that company grow exponentially, with the hopes of fielding multiple regulatory-approved products by 2020. With the plethora of life sciences companies in Kendall Square, Sharp told StatNews the corporate residents of Kendall Square have the potential to “uncover new avenues of health care.”

Noubar Afeyan

Led by Noubar Afeyan, Flagship Ventures has provided seed money to multiple biotech companies. Dubbed a “kingmaker” by StatNews, Afeyan founded the VentureLabs business incubator, which takes companies from an idea and helps launch them. Recent companies to spring out of VentureLabs includes Rubius Therapeutics, Evelo Therapeutics and Pronutria.

Jay Bradner

In March, Jay Bradner left the faculty of Harvard’s Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to helm Novartis Institute for Biomedical Research . Bradner is well known for a TED Talk he gave in October 2011 on open-source cancer research. A part of what he discussed in the talk was his laboratory’s decision to essentially reveal the formula for a promising molecule. Novartis has been a leader in CAR-T therapy,” one of the hottest areas of immuno-oncology treatments, but have been sorely lacking on CAR-T therapy’s key combination approach, checkpoint inhibitors. In his new role, Bradner will manage 6,000 doctors, researchers and staff in the U.S., Switzerland and Asia.

Cambridge’s Kendall Square area, which makes up approximately one square mile, is packed with biotech representatives, including Indianapolis-based Eli Lilly and Company , Amgen , GlaxoSmithKline , Takeda Pharmaceuticals , Sanofi , Biogen Idec, Inc. and Novartis AG . There are also a plethora of other cutting-edge companies, such as Alnylam and bluebird bio . One of the reasons for the greater Boston area becoming such a major hub in the biotech and pharmaceutical industries is the plethora of research universities in the area. Boston also has one of the highest educated workforces in the nation. The close proximity of so many pharmaceutical and university laboratories provides researchers and scientists easy access to clinical studies and building partnerships between companies.

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