BlueRock Therapeutics Sets Up HQ in Cambridge, Expands Executive Team
BlueRock was founded in 2016 when Versant Ventures and Bayer AG invested $225 million in a Series A financing. The company focuses on cell therapies that target severe brain and heart conditions. The company expects its most advanced lead therapeutic, a compound for Parkinson’s disease, to begin clinical trials in 2018.
Tracey Lodie is joining the company as senior vice president of translational immunology. Lodie is a cellular immunologist. Prior to joining BlueRock, Lodie was vice president of immunology at Syros Pharmaceuticals. Before that, Lodie spent most of her career at Genzyme Corp.
Andrea Brener is joining BlueRock as head of human resources. Before joining, Brener was involved in HR at Editas Medicine, and for other companies, including Zafgen, Syros Pharmaceuticals, Agios Pharmaceuticals, SAGE Therapeutics and FORMA Therapeutics.
“Locating our headquarters in Cambridge, within the top innovation cluster in the world, serves as a foundation to execute our plan for rapid growth, form strategic partnerships, collaborate with some of the brightest minds in the industry, and hire some of the best people,” said Emile Nuwaysir, BlueRock’s chief executive officer, in a statement. “An example of this benefit is the addition of Tracey and Andrea, new members of our team of incredibly talented individuals, who can help us accomplish our mission of being the regenerative medicine company of the future.”
Earlier this month, BlueRock announced a collaboration and license agreement with Seattle-based Universal Cells to create induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cell that can be used in manufacturing allogeneic cellular therapies. The two companies will collaborate on engineering iPS cell lines for clinical use, and gives BlueRock commercial rights to use the cell lines.
“BlueRock is at the cutting edge of the cell therapy field and our collaboration with the company represents an important step in their efforts to develop off-the-shelf cell therapies for degenerative diseases,” said Claudia Mitchell, Universal Cells’ chief executive officer, in a statement. “We are honored that our technology will support the advancement of BlueRock’s cell therapies.”
And in late August, BlueRock established a research, development and manufacturing site in the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto. It formalized its research collaboration with the Toronto-based McEwen Centre for Regenerative Medicine at University Health Network (UHN) in addition to a manufacturing partnership with the Centre for Commercialization of Regenerative Medicine (CCRM).
At the same time, Michael Scott was appointed senior vice president of product development and Toronto operations. The UHN collaboration will focus on developing cell therapies that can regenerate heart muscle in patients who’ve had a heart attack or who have chronic heart failure. The collaboration will involve the company’s scientific co-founder Gordon Keller, director of the McEwen Centre, and founding investigator Michael Laflamme, senior scientist, UHN.
“We are tremendously excited about our rapidly expanding presence in Toronto, and the addition of Dr. Scott,” Nuwaysir said in a statement. “Our R&D model leverages collaborations with world-class stem cell and disease biology experts, and this UHN collaboration will allow us to work closely with leaders in the field to develop breakthrough cell therapies for patients suffering from heart failure. In addition, we have strengthened our strategic partnership with CCRM, which leverages not only their expertise, but also their new cGMP manufacturing facility to accelerate the buildout of BlueRock’s manufacturing capabilities.”