Flagship VentureLabs™ Launches Pronutria to Prevent and Treat Diseases with Novel Protein Nutrients Company Appoints Industry Veteran Robert Connelly as CEO

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Oct. 22, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Flagship VentureLabs announces the launch of Pronutria after two years of development in stealth mode and $10.8 million in Series A investments during that period from Flagship Ventures.  The company is currently advancing into human clinical testing its lead ProNutrein™ programs to improve health and treat significant medical conditions mediated by amino acid biology, including muscle, metabolic, and rare diseases.  Pronutria has created a revolutionary platform for identifying proteins in the human diet that, when delivered in pure form, provide a preferred balance of amino acids that elicit a pharmacological effect, important in the setting of a wide range of diseases.  ProNutrein™ products offer a vast untapped source of safe, breakthrough medicines.

ProNutrein™ products are naturally occurring, orally consumed pure protein products that trigger pharmacological effects through precise and reproducible delivery of specific amino acids. The ProNutrein™ product platform leverages a wealth of advanced biotechnology tools, typically applied to drug discovery, that Pronutria has applied to the human diet for the first time, allowing for the identification and development of a large family of pharmaconutrients - nutrients identified in food that can be developed initially as medical foods or dietary supplements and eventually as drugs. The company's discovery strategy builds upon decades of amino acid clinical trial data that validate the potent health benefits of pure and precise amino acid delivery for many indications.  By tapping into the enormous power of amino acid pharmacology, and with the large library of protein nutrients that can deliver it, Pronutria plans to build pharmaconutrients into a major class of new products. 

Amino acid mediated biology is at the heart of a wide range of medical conditions, and both drugs and medical foods that affect this biology can play a critical role in their treatment and support.  Patients with rare diseases, such phenylketonuria, have an inability to properly metabolize specific amino acids.  Other diseases, such as inflammatory bowel disease and cystic fibrosis, suffer from impaired amino acid uptake which exacerbates disease.  And millions suffer from muscle and metabolic diseases where there is a mechanistic link between amino acid biology and the underlying disease pathophysiology.  The ProNutrein™ product platform allows for the tailored selection of proteins ideal for each of these indications that could play a significant role in disease prevention and treatment.

"Pharmaconutrients such as Lovaza® and Niaspan® have established the power of improving health and treating disease through pharmacologically active nutrients that were sold initially as dietary supplements and later, in more potent form, as drugs," said Dr. Noubar Afeyan, Co-founder of Pronutria and Managing Partner and CEO of Flagship Ventures.  "By focusing on the immense diversity of the proteins in our diet, Pronutria has discovered a much larger pharmaconutrient opportunity that it is mining through its unique ProNutrein™ product platform."  

Pronutria was founded in 2010 by Flagship VentureLabs, the innovation foundry of Flagship Ventures, and is based on the recognition of the human diet as a vast natural reservoir of protein nutrients that can have powerful effects on a wide range of health states. The human diet contains substantial amounts of protein, which is broken down through normal digestion into amino acids.  These amino acids, when given in their pure form, at the right dose, ratio and timing, have demonstrated significant health benefits. "Over the past 40 years, clinical trials have demonstrated the role of amino acids in mediating a number of diseases or their treatment," said Dr. David Berry, Co-founder and CSO of Pronutria and Partner at Flagship Ventures.  "Pronutria is identifying proteins that, when given in pure form and free from the complexity of food, can elicit the proven health benefits of tailored amino acid compositions in these important diseases."  

Pronutria systematically investigated vast numbers of proteins in the human diet, creating a library containing over a billion protein nutrients.   In addition, the company developed proprietary approaches to select product candidates with pharmacological benefits, physical characteristics and safety profiles tailored to specific medical needs and population segments.  The presence of ProNutrein™ products within the human diet can allow for GRAS (generally recognized as safe) regulatory status, and supports the company's ability to go from concept to clinic in as little as 12 weeks, a much faster path to clinical proof of concept than traditional pharmaceutical development.  The ProNutrein™ product pipeline includes lead candidates in muscle disease, now entering human clinical trials, metabolic and rare disease candidates entering human clinical trials in 2014.  All ProNutrein™ products deliver an amino acid profile tailored to the indication and population segment, and are delivered in a formulation that is optimized for convenience, taste, cost and compliance.

Pronutria is led by Robert Connelly, a seasoned entrepreneur and the former CEO of life science ventures Domantis and Pulmatrix. Mr. Connelly was the founding CEO of Domantis which he sold to GSK in 2007 for $454 million, the largest all-cash value paid for a pre-clinical company. Mr. Connelly also serves as a Director on the Board of Pulmatrix. "The potential for ProNutrein™ products to prevent, support and treat critical health problems is extraordinary.  There is a wealth of diseases that are amino acid mediated, supported by extensive clinical data.  Pronutria has the unprecedented assets and capabilities to deliver many products that leverage this link," said Mr. Connelly. "Our pipeline has grown substantially in this last year across many indications, with different product paths including drugs and medical foods.  We expect to bring several ProNutrein™ products to market ourselves and with partners over the next few years."

About Pronutria

Pronutria is transforming medicine with ProNutrein™ products, protein nutrients identified in the human diet with specific pharmacologic effects, for improving health and treating many critical health issues, including diabetes, obesity, muscle loss, and diseases with impaired nutrient absorption.  ProNutreins™ are naturally occurring, orally consumed pure protein products that trigger specific pharmacologic effects through pure, precise and reproducible delivery of amino acids.  Pronutria is the only company with access to a library containing over a billion protein nutrients and the tools to select them for specific indications and population segments. Pronutria offers an unprecedented platform with the ability to develop many first and best in class ProNutrein™ products as dietary supplements, medical foods and drugs. For more information, please visit www.pronutria.com.

About Flagship VentureLabs

Flagship VentureLabs™ is the innovation foundry of Flagship Ventures.  VentureLabs has been creating innovative, game changing companies since its founding in 2000.  It is the first institution dedicated to entrepreneurial innovation and parallel entrepreneuring, where the acts of technology invention and entrepreneuring are performed in concert by a team of world-class innovators and professional entrepreneurs.  The VentureLabs team innovates, invents, iterates, founds and builds startups using a unique, systematic approach that results in the creation of best-in-class new ventures.  More than 25 life science and technology startups have been created within VentureLabs, including recently launched Joule Unlimited, Midori Renewables, Moderna Therapeutics, and Seres Health.  For more information, please visit www.flagshipventures.com/venturelabs.

About Flagship Ventures

Realizing entrepreneurial innovation is the mission of Flagship Ventures. The firm operates through two synergistic units: VentureLabs™ which invents and launches transformative companies, and Venture Capital, which finances and develops innovative, early-stage companies. Founded in 2000, and based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Flagship Ventures manages over $900 million in capital. The Flagship team is active in three principal business sectors: therapeutics, health technologies and sustainability/clean technology. Flagship's portfolio ventures include: Accuri Cytometers (acquired by Becton Dickinson), Adnexus (acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb), Acceleron (NASDAQ: XLRN), Agios (NASDAQ: AGIO), BIND Therapeutics (NASDAQ: BIND), Hypnion (acquired by Eli Lilly), Morphotek (acquired by Eisai), Receptos (NASDAQ: RCPT) and Tetraphase (NASDAQ: TTPH). Additional notable portfolio companies include: Affinnova, Joule Unlimited, and Moderna Therapeutics. For more information, please visit www.flagshipventures.com

Contact: 
For Flagship Ventures:  Rachel Brenner
Ruder Finn
212.715.1623 
flagship@ruderfinn.com 

For Pronutria:    Robert Connelly
617.868.0949

SOURCE Flagship VentureLabs



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http://www.flagshipventures.com/venturelabs

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