Faze Launches with $81 Million to Leverage Biology of Biomolecular Condensates to Treat Disease
December 10, 2020
Rare Daily Staff
Faze Medicines has launched with $81 million in series A financing with the mission
of leveraging the fundamentally new understanding of the biology of biomolecular condensates to develop therapies to slow, halt, or reverse disease pathology.
Third Rock Ventures led the financing, with participation by Novartis Venture Fund, Eli Lilly and Company, AbbVie Ventures, Invus, Catalio Capital Management, Casdin Capital, and Alexandria Venture Investments.
The funding will support Faze’s preclinical research in two initial therapeutic focus areas—the rare neurological diseases amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1)—as well as research to explore condensate biology in other disease areas. In ALS and DM1, a robust body of literature points to a causative role for condensate dysregulation. Leveraging state-of-the-art screening and proteomics techniques, Faze will identify proteins that are key components or regulators of disease-causing condensates, and then employ proprietary assays to discover small molecule drugs targeting these proteins.
Biomolecular condensates are membrane-less clusters of molecules, such as proteins and nucleic acids that dynamically organize to perform a wide array of cell functions. Research over the past decade, including seminal work by Faze’s founders, has found that disturbances in the behavior of condensates play a causative role in myriad human diseases, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other neurodegenerative disorders. Faze is now poised to deliver medical breakthroughs based on this fundamentally new understanding of cell biology.
“The biology of condensates is the kind of science that will rewrite textbooks— and, we believe, rewrite medicine,” said Cary Pfeffer, interim CEO of Faze and partner at Third Rock Ventures. “Faze is founded by leading experts who have been integral to this field since its very beginnings. Their insights, coupled with the deep expertise of the team we have assembled, will enable us to realize the enormous potential of this new biology.”
Faze is the fourth company founded over the past year focused on biomolecular condensate biology. Over the past month, Nereid Therapeutics and Transition Bio made their debut, and Dewpoint Therapeutics, which launched in 2019, has already corralled two large pharmaceutical partners.
Faze’s four founders are renowned scientific leaders in the field of biomolecular condensates. Roy Parker, professor of chemistry and biochemistry at the University of Colorado and HHMI investigator, is a pioneer in the study of the class of condensates known as RNP granules with an emphasis on the RNA components and their role in neurodegenerative as well as other diseases.
Mike Rosen, chair of the department of biophysics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and investigator at HHMI, is a leading expert in the formation, regulation and functions of biomolecular condensates with an emphasis on the multivalent interactions that are critical to their formation.
Paul Taylor, faculty chair of the cell and molecular biology department at St. Jude Children’s Hospital and investigator at HHMI, is a pioneer in the field of liquid-liquid phase transitions who has made seminal discoveries defining how mutations that alter these phase transitions impact neurodegenerative diseases.
Ron Vale, HHMI vice president and executive director of the HHMI Janelia Research Campus, is a leading expert in molecular motor proteins who has recently demonstrated how repeat expansion RNAs can drive disease-causing condensate formation.
“Cell biology is undergoing a transformation as we come to understand the integral role that biomolecular condensates play within cell processes from DNA repair to intracellular transport,” said Rachel Meyers, chief scientific officer of Faze. “Faze was founded to translate these exciting discoveries out of the lab and into the clinic, where they could make a real difference in treating diseases that have seen very little therapeutic progress.”
Photo: Cary Pfeffer, interim CEO of Faze and partner at Third Rock Ventures
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