Interim CEO Named Permanent Leader at Tango Therapeutics

Published: Sep 25, 2017

Interim CEO Named Permanent Leader at Tango Therapeutics
September 25, 2017
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

Cambridge, Mass. – Tango Therapeutics, which launched at the end of March with a $55 million Series A investment from Third Rock Ventures, announced today that Barbara Weber will transition from interim chief executive officer to full-time chief executive officer.

Tango focuses on developing cancer therapeutics using DNA sequencing, CRISPR-based targeting, and synthetic lethality. Synthetic lethality is where two dependent genes can stay harmless as long as only one of them has a mutation. That single mutation makes the gene inactive. But if both genes become mutated, and both are inactive, they become lethal to the cell.

Weber, a physician, was formerly a researcher with the University of Pennsylvania, Novartis and GlaxoSmithKline. She joined Third Rock Ventures in 2015. In addition to establishing Tango, she helped found Relay Therapeutics and acted as interim chief medical officer at Neon Therapeutics.

“We are thrilled that Barb will transition to full-time CEO at Tango, building on the tremendous work she has done to help create and nurture the company, attract a stellar team, and develop a strong product engine,” said Alexis Borisy, partner at Third Rock and chairman of the Tango board of directors, in a statement. “Barb’s deep insights and pioneering work in cancer genetics, coupled with her vast drug development and management experience, make her the perfect fit for leading Tango over the long term.”

The company’s scientific advisors include Jose Baselga, physician-in-chief at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center; Levi Garray, senior vice president of Global Oncology at Eli Lilly (LLY); William Kaelin, professor in the Department of Medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School and a Howard Hughes Medical Institutes investigator; Timothy Lu, associate professor of Biological Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT; and Antoni Ribas, professor of Medicine, Surgery, and Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at UCLA.

In March, Weber said in a statement, “Loss of tumor suppressor genes is a hallmark of cancer, but the genes, themselves, are not tractable targets for drug discovery. The availability of comprehensive NDA sequencing, coupled with CRISPR-enabled target discovery, provides us with new paths to identify novel drug targets and combinations that take advantage of vulnerabilities created by loss of tumor suppressor gene function—something we have been unable to do effectively in the past. With the sophisticated genomics tools now available, the time is right for Tango to take on this challenge and focus on patients without effective treatment options.”

Weber will also continue as a Venture Partner at Third Rock Ventures.

Still in the discovery stage, the company is using DNA sequencing and CRISPR-based screening to identify targets for specific subgroups of cancer patients. It will then leverage synthetic lethality to identify weaknesses in cancer cells and exploit them to find cures and treatments. One of the differences in this approach is by putting patient selection before target identification.

“We are making strong early progress in validating the premise upon which Tango was founded, and in building the team and culture that will allow us to have a sustainable impact,” Weber said in a statement. “The insights and technologies now available to us have unlocked vast new areas of drug development that were out of reach only a few years ago. I am thrilled to have the opportunity to lead the talented team at Tango as we work together, pioneering a promising new approach for patients.”

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