Biomolecular Condensates Gain More Funding as Faze Snags $81M for ALS & DM1
Photo Courtesy of Faze Medicines
Cambridge-based Faze Medicines, the biotechnology company that develops therapeutics based on biomolecular condensates, announced today that it has raised $81 million in a Series A round of financing. The funding was led by Third Rock Ventures with Novartis Venture Fund, Eli Lilly and Company, AbbVie Ventures, and Invus, among others.
The financing will be used to support the company’s preclinical research in two therapeutic focus areas – amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1). The remaining funds will be used to research condensate biology in other disease areas. Faze intends to utilize screening and proteomics techniques to identify proteins that are components of disease-causing condensates.
Biomolecular condensates are membrane-less clusters of molecules that organize to perform various cell functions. Research has unveiled that disturbances in the behavior of condensates play a role in several human diseases, including ALS.
“The biology of condensates is the kind of science that will rewrite textbooks — and, we believe, rewrite medicine,” said Cary Pfeffer, M.D., interim chief executive officer of Faze and partner at Third Rock Ventures. “Faze is founded by leading experts who have been integral to this field since its very beginnings. Their insights, coupled with the deep expertise of the team we have assembled, will enable us to realize the enormous potential of this new biology.”
Several scientific leaders in the field of biomolecular condensates serve on Faze’s board and/or helped found the company, including Roy Parker, Ph.D., Mike Rosen, Ph.D., J. Paul Taylor, M.D., Ph.D., and Ron Vale, Ph.D.
“Cell biology is undergoing a transformation as we come to understand the integral role that biomolecular condensates play within cell processes from DNA repair to intracellular transport,” added Rachel Meyers, Ph.D., chief scientific officer of Faze. “Faze was founded to translate these exciting discoveries out of the lab and into the clinic, where they could make a real difference in treating diseases that have seen very little therapeutic progress.”
Although Faze specializes in biomolecular condensates, it’s just one of many companies that works in this area. Dewpoint Therapeutics, another biomolecular condensates business, announced back in July that it had entered an exclusive collaboration agreement with Merck (known as MSD outside the U.S. and Canada). The goal was to apply Dewpoint’s proprietary platform for condensate-based drug discovery to the development of a new mechanism for the treatment of HIV.
“At Merck, we remain committed to advancing new treatment options for patients with HIV, including exploring novel ways toward a potential cure,” said Daria Hazuda, vice president Infectious Diseases Discovery, Merck Research Laboratories and Chief Scientific Officer, Merck Exploratory Science Center, at the time of the announcement. “We look forward to working with the Dewpoint team.”
Dewpoint’s platform gives researchers the ability to see and understand the interactions of biomolecular communities. This helps them develop drugs that intervene in new ways, opening doors for various treatment options.
“Dewpoint and Merck will leverage Dewpoint’s expertise in condensates to develop an HIV drug candidate with a unique mechanism that may provide the potential to cure rather than suppress the infection,” said Ann Kwong, Dewpoint Executive Vice President, R&D, at the time of the announcement. “For me, it’s really exciting and inspiring to be partnering with Merck, a leader in the HIV treatment field. I’m thrilled that we have the chance to work together to try to develop the first HIV curative treatment.”