Cambridge Biotech Startup Rubius Banks $120 Million, Hopes to Hire 60 New Staffers

Published: Jun 22, 2017

Cambridge Biotech Startup Rubius Banks $120 Million, Hopes to Hire 60 New Staffers June 21, 2017
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Rubius Therapeutics, a Flagship Ventures (now Flagship Pioneering) startup, snagged $120M in private financing, which will be used to advance the company’s Red-Cell Therapeutics portfolio into the clinic by 2018, as well as expand employment.

Torben Straight Nissen, president of Kendall Square-based Rubius, said the $120 million financing positions the company to make the necessary advancements on the platform in order to make a “significant difference in the lives of patients.”

Rubius launched in 2015 with $25 million in Series A seed financing from Venture. The company specializes in engineering red blood cells to have medicinal purposes. The company’s therapeutic program turns stem cells into red blood cells and then introduces genetic material into the cells to express specific proteins, which will make them uniquely suited for treating a variety of diseases, including infections, cancer and metabolic disorders. The engineered blood cells will remain in the body for up to four months, which gives them advantages in treating these various diseases over traditional therapies, the company said. Rubius’ red cell therapeutics was developed in-house and will allow diseases to be treated in broad and new ways that will have positive impact on the lives of patients facing multiple diseases.

When the company launched two years ago, leadership told BioSpace that research was especially focused on developing a treatment for phenylketonuria (PKU), a metabolic disease that affects as many as one in 13,000 births in the U.S. Now Rubius looks as if it’s preparing for multiple shots on goal with a broad pipeline portfolio. Rubius’ lead RCT programs include enzyme replacement therapies as well as therapies targeting solid tumors and hematological cancers. Additionally, Rubius said it has demonstrated that RCTs “provide potential applications across additional therapeutic areas, such as autoimmune disease, infectious disease, metabolic disease and rare diseases, including hemophilia.”

David Epstein, chairman of Rubius’ board of directors and an executive partner of Flagship Pioneering, said in a statement that the company has achieved several scientific and manufacturing milestones in the first six months of this year. The milestones include the clinical scale production of cultured red cells in bioreactors and the generation of preclinical proof-of-concept data for several lead programs, the company said.

Since it came out of stealth mode in 2015, Rubius has been expanding its team. The company started with 13 employees and has grown to about 40, according to the Boston Business Journal. Over the next 12 months, the company is looking to grow to about 100 employees. The company’s online career page indicates it is soliciting resumes, but does not provide information on what positions are open.

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