KSQ Emerges With $76 Million and Will be Helmed by Former Genzyme CEO

Published: Oct 03, 2017

KSQ Emerges With $76 Million and Will be Helmed by Former Genzyme CEO October 2, 2017
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – David Meeker, the former head of rare diseases for Sanofi Genzyme , left the company earlier this year and has reappeared at the helm of gene therapy startup KSQ Therapeutics.

Meeker spent 23 years at Sanofi Genzyme and left the company at the end of June. He didn’t step into retirement, instead he took the position of chief executive officer at KSQ Therapeutics, a company founded in 2015. The Cambridge, Mass.-based company is focused on developing oncology and immunology therapies using its proprietary CRISPRomics drug discovery engine.

Meeker said the 40-employee KSQ Therapeutics has a clear focus for its CRISPRomics engine. The company has a goal of using its CRISPR-based technology to clearly determine the role each gene plays in disease function. In an interview with Endpoints News, Meeker said the company’s technology will allow it to scan the genes in the genome and determine which drug targets have the biggest impact on a disease.

“There is a compelling need to improve the quality of drug targets and to identify patients most likely to respond because our industry and our health care systems are challenged by the sheer volume of potential new medicines. With our proprietary CRISPRomics engine, KSQ is positioned to play a leading role in shortening drug development timelines, increasing the rate at which meaningful medicines can reach patients, and ultimately, improving the sustainability of our health care systems,” Meeker said in a statement.

Meeker was not the only executive position to be filled at KSQ Therapeutics. KSQ also announced former Novartis executive Frank Stegmeier, as the company’s new chief scientific officer. George Golumbeski was named an executive advisor and board member.

Stegmeier led oncology target discovery at prior to joining KSQ. He left the global company in 2015 and has lead KSQ’s platform development and R&D efforts since the company’s formation in 2015, demonstrating the early productivity of CRISPRomics. Stegmeier said gene therapy will play a significant role in therapeutic drug discovery. In a statement, he said the human genome “harbors more than 20,000 genes” but researchers have not yet discerned which genes are the best targets.

“For the first time, CRISPRomics allows us to systematically pinpoint the optimal nodal targets of disease with extraordinary precision and speed. The genome-scale insights that are possible with CRISPRomics are enabling KSQ to most efficiently focus our drug discovery efforts on the development of medicines with the greatest potential to intervene in disease and, therefore, impact the lives of patients,” Stegmeier said.

If the company’s technology works as predicted, Stegmeier and Meeker believe it will allow for a more efficient development of oncological treatments. That should also allow the company to grow significantly. Meeker told Endpoints News that staff could double within a year.

In addition to Meeker’s appointment, the new gene-editing company also raised $76 million in financing. The financing was supported by Flagship Pioneering; Polaris Partners, ARCH Venture Partners, and Alexandria Equities.

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