Dewpoint Therapeutics has attracted interested of investors with a completely new approach that might cure a huge array of devasting diseases.
It’s always worth to start a company with a potential breakthrough approach in the Boston biotech area. At the end of January, Dewpoint Therapeutics cashed in a total of $60 million from lead investor Polaris Partners and a consortium of Samsara Biocapital, 6 Dimensions Capital, EcoR1 Capital and the venture capital vehicle Leaps by Bayer.
The spin-off company from German Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden, and Whitehead Institute, Boston, pioneers a completely new approach to treat cancer or neurological conditions by targeting biomolecular condensates.
Biomolecular condensates are like cell organelles without cell membrane - they compartmentalize certain biochemical processes and the necessary macromolecules simply by phase transfer.
Company co-founders Anthony Hyman from the Dresden MPI of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics and Richard Young from Whitehead Institute, MIT, have discovered that the previously underexplored activation domains of transcription factors are brought into proximity by phase transfer in aqueous cell compartments, thereby initiating and maintaining the transcription of specific genes. A handful of activation domains such as "mediator" or "p300" regulate the transcription of hundreds of different transcription factors. The researchers want to take advantage of this, in order to specifically influence the disturbed transcription in cancer, neurological diseases, cardiovascular diseases and other medical fields - an approach that does not target the genetic level, but aims at correcting disturbed biological functions. Fields of application for addressing the molecular condensates with drugs are found in almost all important indication areas.
For mastering the challenging first-in-class endeavor, the company has given itself management with a wide range of expertise: CSO Mark Murcko, a founder of Relay Therapeutics, , holds more than 50 patents and previously served as advisor to Vertex Pharmaceuticals and as CTO of Merck, Sharpe & Dohme. COO Bruce Beutel, who joined the company through lead investor Polaris, brings 25 years of drug development and business development experience, including with Merck and Abbott. Senior VP Discovery Biology Stephen Hale is a specialist in the discovery of small molecule drugs and has gained experience in drug screening in almost all therapeutic areas – in start-ups and Big Pharma. CEO Amir Nashat, Partner at Polaris Partners, is virtually one of the best-connected people in the Boston biotech scene.
Co-founder Hyman is pleased with the challenge: "Insight into molecular condensates promises an understanding of fundamental biological mysteries. We are eager to use them to develop new therapeutic approaches."
“It is every life science research institute’s dream to made a discovery that may have a transformative impact on our understanding of health and disease,” said Dr. Ivan C. Baines, COO of the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics. “Phase transitions and the role of biological condensates represent a paradigm shift as well as a new field in biology. We could not be more thrilled to see research findings from MPI-CBG as center stage of the new field of phase transitions and to be working with Dewpoint Therapeutics, an outstanding team of world-leading scientists and business entrepreneurs, in further developing the field to address unsolved problems in our battle against disease.”