Flagship Pioneering Backs Foghorn Therapeutics with $50 Million to Develop New Class of Drugs to Regulate Genes

March 15, 2018

Rare Daily Staff

Flagship Pioneering today said it made a $50 million commitment to Foghorn Therapeutics to discover and develop drugs based on novel insights into the chromatin regulatory system, a way of regulating which genes are turned on and off.

Foghorn uses its proprietary Gene Traffic Control product platform to discover new therapeutics. The company likens the chromatin regulatory system to an air traffic control system, directing where, when, in what order, and to what extent genes are expressed in the body.

The company said breakdowns in this Gene Traffic Control system is a major and unexplored cause of cancer and other serious diseases. Foghorn said its proprietary platform makes it possible, for the first time, to understand how chromatin regulation malfunctions and to make drugs to correct it when it does.

“Genes determine critical aspects of health and disease,” said Doug Cole, managing partner at Flagship Pioneering and chairman of Foghorn’s board of directors. “Cells rely on the chromatin regulatory system to direct which genes are expressed and when, where, and in what order they are expressed. The chromatin regulatory system represents a pivotal, unexploited area on which to build effective new therapeutic strategies.”

Cigall Kadoch of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School, and the Broad Institute; Gerald Crabtree, of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Stanford University; and Flagships Pioneering Cole founded Foghorn in 2016. Flagship Pioneering developed and launched Foghorn through its innovation foundry, Flagship VentureLabs.

Adrian Gottschalk, formerly senior vice president and neurodegeneration therapeutic area head at Biogen, is serving as the company’s CEO.

Since establishing operations in 2016, Foghorn Therapeutics has developed a product platform that has generated new insights into disease, created six programs, and built a discovery engine that is yielding many additional targets. The company is in the process of developing drug candidates across a range of cancers and is exploring applications of Gene Traffic Control in neurology and immunology. The therapeutic approach is expected to have applications in a number of rare diseases.

“At Foghorn, we envision a world where patients can regain control of their genes to battle cancer and other serious diseases,” said Gottschalk, CEO of Foghorn Therapeutics. “The applications of our Gene Traffic Control platform are incredibly broad across cancer, neurology, and immunology. This is just the beginning of an entirely new approach to controlling gene expression and to bringing new medicines to patients with intractable diseases.”

March 14, 2018
Photo: Adrian Gottschalk, CEO of Foghorn Therapeutics

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