Biologists, Chemists, Clinicians from Harvard, Stanford, University of
Washington, the Scripps Research Institute, and Massachusetts General Hospital
Partner with Top Investor Groups
Technology Bypasses Current Debate on Ethical Use of Embryonic Stem Cells
by Using Pharmaceutical Medicines to Modulate Stem Cells inside the Body and
via the Use of "Reprogrammed" Adult Stem Cells
SEATTLE, November 29 /CNW/ - A group of the nation's most respected
leaders in stem cell biology today announced formation of Fate Therapeutics, a
new biotechnology company developing drugs to control cell fate. Fate will
harness the healing power of adult stem cells by using small molecule drugs to
modulate cells in vivo (in the body) and by reprogramming mature adult cells
into stem cells.
"Fate's approach is the dawn of a new day in medicine," said Dr. Ben
Shapiro, retired Executive Vice President of Worldwide Basic Research, Merck
Research Laboratories, and a member of Fate's Science Advisory Board.
"Revolutionary advances in stem cell research have shifted the entire
debate. We are proving that adult stem cell proliferation and differentiation
can be modulated in the human body, and we now have the ability to induce
pluripotent stem cells from adult human tissue rather than relying on the use
of stem cells derived from embryos."
The company expects to have a lead adult stem cell modulating drug, in a
cancer-related indication, enter the clinic in 2008.
Fate Therapeutics' Revolutionary Platform is Two-Fold
The Fate platform focuses on both regenerative and reprogramming
medicine. The Fate regenerative medicine platform involves developing drugs
that awaken adult stem cells in the body to repair damaged cells and tissues.
The Fate reprogramming medicine platform involves developing drugs to
reprogram mature adult cells into stem cells, which when differentiated can
become healthy heart, bone, brain or other tissues.
Applications of these two approaches include treating the effects of
neurological diseases such as Down syndrome, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's;
healing damaged heart tissue after heart attacks; increasing bone and muscle
strength in the severely frail; and protecting organs after infection or
transplantation. Fate will also tackle devastating cancers, such as pancreatic
and colorectal cancer, by developing drugs to prevent the expansion and
maturation of cancer stem cells.
Fate's Approach Differs Significantly from Others Working with Stem Cells
To date, most stem cell companies have focused on cell therapy using
harvested cells from cord blood or other tissues. In contrast, Fate's approach
focuses exclusively on traditional therapeutics, namely small molecules and
protein therapeutics, to direct cell fate. In addition to its novel approach,
Fate's work has potential broad application across all degenerative diseases,
developmental disorders and cancers, and in enabling the creation of healthy
patient-identical cells for transplantation.
"We have looked at investing in many stem cell companies, but the science
and commercial reality just wasn't there yet," said Robert Nelsen, founding
partner of ARCH Venture Partners, whose firm co-founded Fate. "Now is the
perfect storm; the right biology breakthroughs; a targeted way to use real
drugs; and the leading scientists, entrepreneurs, and investors -- all in the
same company to develop breakthrough medicines."
Founders' Breakthroughs Are Breathtaking in Scope and Implication
Fate's founders include researchers from across the United States and
multiple scientific disciplines, including basic biology, biological chemistry
and translational medicine. As authors of many of the most far-ranging
breakthroughs in stem cell science, the team is defining the changes in the
-- Philip Beachy, Ph.D., Stanford University Institute for Stem Cell
Biology and Regenerative Medicine and HHMI, has pioneered the use of synthetic
small molecules and natural products to manipulate activities of developmental
and stem cell signaling pathways in vitro and in vivo.
-- Sheng Ding, Ph.D., Scripps Research Institute, has worked on the
identification of small molecules and genes that control cell fate, including
cell reprogramming and differentiation. Dr. Ding's work has important
implications for the development of small molecule drugs that can potentiate
adult stem cells in vivo, and reprogram differentiated cells to new functions.
-- Randall Moon, Ph.D., University of Washington, Director, Institute
for Stem Cell and Regenerative Medicine, HHMI, and UW Department of
Pharmacology, has focused on illuminating the biological pathways that control
adult stem cells during the process of regeneration to develop new therapeutic
methods to activate regeneration.
-- David Scadden, M.D., Professor, Harvard University, Co-director and
Co-founder, Harvard Stem Cell Institute, Director Massachusetts General
Hospital Center for Regenerative Medicine, has broken new ground in
understanding how blood forming stem cells and other adult stem cells are
maintained in the adult body in specialized niches, and in developing
therapies that exploit this biology to modulate adult stem cells in vivo.
-- Leonard Zon, M.D., Harvard University, Director of the Stem Cell
Program, Children's Hospital of Boston and HHMI, is a world expert on the
biology of adult blood forming stem cells and methods of enhancing their
function for cancer and regenerative medicine applications.
Esteemed Scientists to Join Fate's Science Advisory Board
In addition to the founding scientists, Fate Therapeutics has garnered
the expertise of additional stem cell scientists, research leaders, and drug
development luminaries to join its Scientific Advisory Board:
-- Robert Langer, Sc.D.: Institute Professor of Chemical and Biomedical
Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
-- Ram Sasisekharan, Ph.D.: Professor of Biological Engineering & Health
Sciences and Technology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
-- Ben Shapiro, M.D.: Retired Executive Vice President of Worldwide
Basic Research, Merck Research Laboratories
"Fate's timing is excellent," said Fate's Executive Vice President Tom
St. John. "The science is now mature enough. Clear therapeutic modalities have
emerged, and the cloud of political and ethical debate surrounding embryonic
stem cells is now a thing of the past. We've got a real opportunity to prove
that Fate's adult stem cell therapies are the future of medicine."
Before joining Fate, St. John was the Vice President of Therapeutic
Development at ICOS Corporation overseeing all of ICOS' development programs.
World-Class Investment Team Lined up behind Scientists
The unparalleled scientific team is backed by leading venture capital
firms ARCH Venture Partners, Polaris Venture Partners, Venrock and OVP, all
with successful track records in building some of the world's leading life
The syndicate group has a combined $7 billion under management.
Ground-breaking biotechnology companies founded by the firms and their
partners include Immunex, IDEC Pharmceuticals, Gilead Sciences, Genetics
Institute, Illumina, Centocor, Sepracor, Alnylam Pharmaceuticals, Athena
Neurosciences, Aviron, Corixa, deCode Genetics, Geron, Glycofi, Ikaria,
Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Momenta Pharmaceuticals, Sirna Therapeutics,
Trubion Pharmaceuticals, Vical and XenoPort.
Fate Therapeutics was co-founded by Alex Rives, of ARCH Venture Partners.
The company's board of directors includes Amir Nashat, General Partner,
Polaris Venture Partners; Robert Nelsen, Co-founder and Managing Director,
ARCH Venture Partners; and Bryan Roberts, Managing General Partner, Venrock.
About Fate Therapeutics
Fate Therapeutics was founded by the world's leading experts in adult
stem cell biology to develop and commercialize therapies to control the
destiny of cells. The company's revolutionary platforms are focused on
developing medicines that awaken adult stem cells resident within the body to
fight disease and regenerate damaged cells and tissue, and on the use of small
molecules to reprogram mature adult cells to an embryonic-like state. The
company's work has broad application, and offers new hope in the treatment of
degenerative diseases, developmental disorders and cancer, and in enabling the
creation of patient-identical cells for transplantation.
Fate has facilities in Seattle, and soon in California and Massachusetts.
For more information, see www.fatetherapeutics.com.
For further information:
For further information: Media Contact: Edelman Sam Butler, 206-268-2255