Autumn Newsletter 2018
PIF has had three exits since our summer newsletter in May. Alexion acquired Syntimmune for $400M upfront, and $1.2B total with all milestones included. It is gratifying to see the intensive work from Professor Rick Blumberg and entrepreneur Laur Blumberg pay off with such a strong partner. Alexion is well positioned to advance the lead antibody in IgG-mediated autoimmune disorders. PIF EIR David de Graaf was instrumental in the clinical development stages, positioning Syntimmune for a remarkable exit.
PIF’s portfolio also had two recent IPOs this quarter, Magenta Therapeutics and Translate Bio. PIF worked with venture giants Third Rock and Atlas in the early going of Magenta, as they were both thinking about how to work with David Scadden, co-head of Harvard’s Stem Cell Institute. Magenta’s efforts with stem cells to make bone marrow transplants safer could have an enormous effect on a wide variety of diseases. Roger Kitterman previously worked closely with Jeannie Lee from MGH to help start RaNA Therapeutics, as Atlas looked to start a company focused on her long non-coding RNA (lncRNA) efforts. Jay Knowles then took on the board role and had a chance to witness the Ron Renaud effect. The CEO Ron Renaud recognized that there was more translational work to be done before RaNA could move forward clinically with lncRNA. He pivoted brilliantly with the acquisition of Shire’s mRNA technology and led the push into the clinic to treat cystic fibrosis. His steady but relentless drive to the public markets and intense clinical focus was a treat to behold.
We’re looking forward to hearing more and cheering from the sidelines as RaNA (now known as Translate Bio) makes a measurable impact in a number of rare diseases.
We also led an investment in Pykus this quarter in a $8M Series A round. Pykus is a new company focused on improving the lives of patients after retinal detachment surgery who must lie face down, immobilized with no vision continually for a week after surgery. Mass Eye and Ear Fellows Thomasz Stryjewski and Anthony Stefater created a new hydrogel material that mimics the natural vitreous humor and which should allow patients to avoid the current post-surgical impact.
Finally, because we’re always focused on new targets and technologies, we’ve decided to highlight Klaus van Leyen’s approach to stroke management with 12/15-LOX inhibitors. We’ll generally look to highlight one piece of research in each newsletter, and we are delighted to lead off with Klaus’ insights.