RARE Daily

Cystic Fibrosis foundation and Longwood Fund Launch CF Incubator

August 5, 2020

Rare Daily Staff

The Cystic Fibrosis foundation and Longwood Fund, a biotech-focused venture capital firm, are teaming up to launch an incubator to fund projects and accelerate genetic therapies for cystic fibrosis.

The foundation’s venture philanthropy efforts, which helped fund Vertex’s cystic fibrosis medicines, has committed $20 million to the collaboration as part of its Path to a Cure.

“The Cystic Fibrosis foundation has a legacy of making bold commitments, including early stage funding to develop breakthrough therapies for people with cystic fibrosis and to drive progress toward a cure,” said Michael Boyle, president and CEO, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. “This collaboration marks an exciting evolution in our long-standing approach to venture philanthropy and will amplify our efforts to draw the best scientific minds and technologies into CF and accelerate our Path to a Cure.”

The agreement with Longwood Fund builds on the foundation’s successful approach to collaborative drug discovery and development and positions the foundation to take advantage of emerging science with the potential to benefit individuals with CF who are most in need of new therapeutic options.

Through the incubator, the foundation will have the opportunity to provide seed-stage funding during a new company’s formation within Longwood Fund’s general fund, as well as continue support for those companies in future fundraising rounds with other investors. The foundation is also a limited partner in Longwood Fund V, a diversified early stage biotech venture capital fund.

The incubator fund will be governed by an advisory committee co-led by William Skach, chief scientific officer of the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and Christoph Westphal, co-founder and general partner of Longwood Fund. Skach is a leading scientific expert in cystic fibrosis, and a specialist in protein folding. Westphal has been the co-founder, CEO, and lead investor of six biotechnology companies that have completed initial public offerings.

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation’s use of venture philanthropy in drug development is well known. Its research funding model has helped de-risk and spur the development of new technologies in CF, and has resulted in more than 10 approved therapies–including new medicines that treat the underlying cause of CF for many people with the disease.

This progress has added decades of life and new hope for people with CF, but critical work remains to ensure that every person with the disease has an effective therapy to address their underlying mutations. Approximately 7 percent of people with CF have mutations that will not respond to current treatments for the underlying cause of the disease. In 2019, the foundation introduced its Path to a Cure, an ambitious research agenda and $500 million challenge to accelerate treatments for individuals who are still waiting for a breakthrough and cure CF for all people living with the disease.

Photo: Michael Boyle, president and CEO, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation

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