Rheos Medicines Launches with $60 Million
The company will focus on immunometabolism to treat disease. Its product engine evaluates how different types of immune cells affect disease progression in patient subpopulations. Key to that product engine is the company’s Immune Cell Encyclopedia (ICE), which maps metabolic pathways that different types of immune cells use to regulate their function in both healthy people and in various diseases.
Rheos will initially focus on CD4 and CD8 T-cell subtypes that are involved in inflammatory bowel disease, psoriasis, vitiligo and immuno-oncology.
“I have firsthand experience treating patients with immune-mediated diseases based on my years in clinical practice, and it is exhilarating to apply the wealth of expertise and technology at Rheos to create new treatments and address these patient needs,” said Larry Turka, Rheos’ chief scientific officer and co-founder, in a statement. “I am excited to work with the talented team at Rheos and use our product engine to translate the powerful science of immunometabolism into the reality of new treatments that can make a lasting difference for the millions of patients with immune-mediated diseases.”
In addition to Turka, the company’s scientific founders include Richard Flavell, Sterling Professor of Immunobiology, Yale University and investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute; Edward Pearce, senior group leader, Max Planck Institute of Immunobiology and Epigenetics, and faculty of Biology, University of Freiburg; Erika Pearce, director, Max Plank Institute; Ken Smith, professor of Medicine and head of the Department of Medicine, University of Cambridge; and E. William St. Clair, professor of Medicine and Immunology, Duke University Medical Center.
The company’s leadership is Abbie Celniker, interim chief executive officer. She is a partner at Third Rock Ventures, and is currently a board member of Goldfinch Bio and former president and chief executive officer of Eleven Biotherapeutics.
The company’s chief technology officer is Edward Driggers. Before joining Rheos, he created and led the Cell Metabolism Department at Agios Pharmaceuticals.
Ryan Cohlhepp is the senior vice president, R&D Strategy & Operations. He was previously vice president of Marketing, Operations & Analytics with Takeda Oncology.
Brian Albrecht is the vice president of Drug Discovery. Before joining Rheos, he was a principal at Third Rock. Before Third Rock, he led the medicinal chemistry department at Constellation.
And finally, Hozefa Bandukwala is senior director, Head of Discovery Biology. Before joining Rheos, Bandukwala was an associate research fellow in Pfizer's Inflammation & Immunology Research Unit.
“The emerging field of immunometabolism offers a tremendous opportunity to set a higher standard for how immune-mediated diseases are treated,” said Celniker, in a statement. “This opens an opportunity for Rheos to direct our medicines to a new aspect of disease pathogenesis by targeting the underlying cellular metabolism of immune cells. By building on the discoveries of our founders, Rheos is developing a biomarker and drug discovery engine that will allow us to address disease biology and patient variability by ‘tuning’ immune cells in select patient populations with precision medicines.”
Rheos follows in the footsteps, in some ways, of another Third Rock company, Agios Pharmaceuticals, which attempts to treat cancer by targeting tumor metabolism. Last year, Agios and Celgene’s Idhifa (ienasidienib) was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to treat acute myeloid leukemia.