Flagship Pioneering Takes Aim at Global Health Threats with $3.37 Billion Fund
Biopharma company curator Flagship Pioneering, which has launched companies such as Moderna, announced a massive infusion of cash that will be used to support the development and launch of new companies taking aim at a myriad of diseases and global health threats.
Over the past several months, investors have supported the company’s Fund VII, bringing its capital pool total to $3.37 billion, which will help efforts to launch companies developing next-generation therapeutics and support agri-bio endeavors.
Flagship Founder and Chief Executive Officer Noubar Afeyan said the funds raised would significantly impact preventing and treating diseases and feeding a growing global population. He pointed to the success of Moderna and its rapidly-developed COVID-19 vaccine that has been authorized for use across the globe as an example of what Flagship has been capable of achieving with its focus on building cohesive, integrated platforms aimed at the development of transformative products.
“In the last year alone, breakthroughs at Rubius Therapeutics, Denali Therapeutics, Seres Therapeutics, and others demonstrated the exponential impact bioplatforms can have on health. Biotechnology is at the leading edge of technological progress, challenging us to think beyond incremental advances and take big leaps – and Flagship Pioneering is focused on actively leaping to the scientific spaces ripe for disruption,” Afeyan said in a statement.
Since the start of 2021, Flagship Pioneering has launched multiple companies. In May, Flagship launched Laronde, which is developing a new type of RNA-based medicine called Endless RNA, or eRNA. eRNA-based medications are programmable and capable of providing “long lasting, persistent expression of therapeutic proteins” inside a patient’s body. Laronde’s launch came a few months after Flagship launched Inzen Therapeutics, which is developing new medications based on a new pathway discovered by Flagship called Thanokine Biology. It’s believed that that pathway offers the potential for new approaches to cancer, fibrotic disorders, immune-inflammatory disorders, metabolic disorders, and degenerative diseases.
Flagship also launched a new division known as Pioneering Medicines that has a mandate to build a world-class biopharmaceutical R&D capability that will conceive and develop a portfolio of life-changing treatments for patients.
Pioneering Medicines will be able to harness the power of its parent’s multiple scientific platforms found across 40 different companies. The idea is to use the technology owned by those companies, including Moderna and Evelo Biosciences, to take research into new areas that those companies are not studying.
With the close of Fund VII, Flagship said it now has $14.1 billion in assets under management, and an aggregate capital pool of $6.7 billion.
“This expanded capital pool will enable us to support first-in-category platform companies, spanning human therapeutics, agriculture, and nutrition, as well as our soon-to-be-launched Preemptive Medicine and Health Security Initiative, and the development of a robust pipeline of clinical assets through our Pioneering Medicines Division,” Stephen Berenson, Managing Partner of Flagship Pioneering said in a statement.
In addition to its new Pioneering Medicines division, Flagship Pioneering is also building a preemptive medicines division aimed at developing products that can help people before they get sick. This division will focus on infectious disease threats and pursue bold treatments for existing diseases, including cancer, obesity, and neurodegeneration.
"The (COVID-19) pandemic has laid bare the critical nature of health, not only to individuals, but to economies and societies," Ara Darzi, chairman of Flagship's Preemptive Medicine and Health Security Initiative said in a statement. “Flagship is pioneering a new field that aims to protect, maintain, and improve people's health by providing security against threats for everyone, and preventing or postponing the onset of disease for 'seemingly healthy' people, before they experience any recognizable symptoms at all.”