Flagship Pioneering Unveils Vesalius Therapeutics to Revolutionize the Treatment of the Diseases that Drive Ninety Percent of Human Illness
- Company emerges after two years of platform development with $75 million of committed capital from Flagship
- Co-Founded by Doug Cole, M.D., Managing Partner at Flagship Pioneering, and Christopher Austin, M.D., former Director of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) within the National Institutes of Health (NIH), who will lead the company as CEO
- Vesalius' DIAMOND™ technology platform combines data from large clinical databases, genetics and genomics information, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and proprietary experimental models to redefine how we think about and treat common illnesses like autoimmune disorders, diabetes, and neurologic diseases such as Alzheimer's
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., March 2, 2022 /PRNewswire/ -- Flagship Pioneering today unveiled Vesalius Therapeutics, a company focused on redefining the understanding and treatment of the diseases that drive ninety percent of human illness. Flagship initially committed $75 million to support the development of Vesalius' platform and initial pipeline of new medicines. Christopher Austin, M.D., who previously served as the founding Director of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will lead the company as CEO. Dr. Austin joined Flagship in March of 2021 as CEO-Partner.
"Progress in treating some of society's most devastating illnesses has not moved as quickly as it could because our industry has not been defining the problem correctly. At Flagship, we realized that to tackle these conditions we needed to think differently," said Doug Cole, M.D., Managing Partner at Flagship Pioneering, co-founder of Vesalius, and Chairman of its Board of Directors. "Vesalius was established to fundamentally realign the way we view, diagnose, and treat common illnesses which biotechnology has largely ignored. We believe our approach will have a transformative effect on our ability to treat the diseases that cause ninety percent of suffering and death in the world."
Currently, many illnesses that affect millions of patients worldwide have a single diagnosis (e.g., diabetes) which encompasses multiple different diseases, each affecting distinct groups of patients with distinct biological causes. This often results in unique symptoms, which are driven by abnormalities in genetic circuits that differ from the drivers found in the other groups – meaning that patients who today share a diagnosis are, in fact, not all suffering from the same disease.
Vesalius' DIAMOND platform works like a prism that separates patients into therapeutically meaningful groups using artificial intelligence and machine learning to bring to light the biology underlying the clinical presentation. DIAMOND creates proprietary patient-derived experimental systems that it uses to screen and characterize drug candidates to restore these circuits to healthy functioning. This approach will reveal new paths to develop therapeutics for previously intractable diseases.
Dr. Austin commented, "Common illnesses are not monolithic, they are actually a constellation of multiple genetically and biologically distinct diseases that affect patients differently. Our DIAMOND platform enables us to elucidate these defined groups of patients and understand their shared biology to home in on the right therapeutic for the right group of patients. By distilling patient groups by their shared symptoms, genetics, and biology, we believe we can improve the chances of successfully developing medicines for prevalent diseases. In addition, by using proprietary human cell-based experimental models, our platform is incredibly efficient in testing new therapeutic options to ultimately improve patient lives."
"We need big ideas and bold ambitions if we are going to finally develop impactful solutions for some of society's most burdensome illnesses, and Chris' experience over almost a decade as the founding director of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the NIH is perfectly suited for Vesalius' mission," said Noubar Afeyan, Ph.D., Founder and CEO of Flagship Pioneering. "His strategic vision led to advances in translational science that greatly accelerated the development of a number of transformational medicines. He also has deep experience in genetic target discovery through his work with the National Human Genome Research Institute and at Merck that is the perfect match for the next great challenge in healthcare."
Vesalius has made significant progress identifying genetic circuits within subpopulations of patients in several difficult-to-treat diseases, providing proof-of-concept for its approach, and opening the door to many different therapeutic categories. The company expects to hire more than 200 people over the next two years to support the advancement of its platform and programs.
About Vesalius Therapeutics
Vesalius is revolutionizing the way common illnesses are understood and treated. Vesalius's DIAMOND™ technology platform allows the company to see through disease complexity to more fully understand the drivers of common illnesses, enabling a far more effective and efficient approach to drug development. Vesalius's platform begins and ends with patients. It elegantly combines human data, genetics and genomics information, artificial intelligence and machine learning, and proprietary experimental models to redefine how we think about and treat common illnesses. Vesalius was founded in 2019 in Flagship Labs, Flagship Pioneering's innovation foundry. For more information visit vesaliustx.com, or follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn.
About Flagship Pioneering
Flagship Pioneering conceives, creates, resources, and develops first-in-category bioplatform companies to transform human health and sustainability. Since its launch in 2000, the firm has, through its Flagship Labs unit, applied its unique hypothesis-driven innovation process to originate and foster more than 100 scientific ventures, resulting in more than $140 billion in aggregate value. To date, Flagship has deployed over $2.6 billion in capital toward the founding and growth of its pioneering companies alongside more than $19 billion of follow-on investments from other institutions. The current Flagship ecosystem comprises 42 transformative companies, including Axcella Health (NASDAQ: AXLA), Codiak BioSciences (NASDAQ: CDAK) Denali Therapeutics (NASDAQ: DNLI), Evelia Biosciences (NASDAQ: EVLO), Foghorn Therapeutics (NASDAQ: FHTX), Indigo Ag, Kaleido Biosciences (NASDAQ: KLDO), Moderna (NASDAQ: MRNA), Omega Therapeutics (NASDAQ: OMGA), Rubius Therapeutics (NASDAQ: RUBY), Sana Biotechnology (NASDAQ: SANA), Seres Therapeutics (NASDAQ: MCRB), and Sigilon Therapeutics (NASDAQ: SGTX).
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