CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Nov. 4, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Flagship Ventures, a leading venture capital and venture creation firm focused on innovations in healthcare and sustainability, announced it has launched Evelo Therapeutics, a new company focused on leveraging the power of the microbiome to develop novel therapies for cancer, with an initial capital commitment of $35 million.
Evelo is pioneering Oncobiotic™ therapeutics, a new modality in cancer therapy based on the cancer microbiome. Evelo is the first company to systematically identify, characterize and understand the biology of cancer-associated bacteria (CAB) and bacterial immune activators (BIAs™), providing new insights into cancer metabolism and immuno-oncology. The microbiome is the collection of trillions of microbes that live in and on the human body. In recent years, scientists have found that the microbiome plays a crucial role in many areas of human biology and disease.
Evelo's Oncobiotic platform would treat cancer through unprecedented therapeutic modalities. Evelo's novel approaches leverage tumor-microenvironment modifications that can be mediated by the microbiome to disrupt tumor metabolism and the interactions between the tumor and surrounding tissue.
Evelo is also exploring novel Oncobiotic approaches that can leverage the ability of bacteria to uniquely and powerfully activate the immune system to fight cancer. In this respect, Evelo is developing a next-generation approach to immuno-oncology that goes beyond check-point inhibitors and CAR-T cell therapies.
"Evelo's proprietary technologies and platforms lay the foundation for the first company to approach treating cancer through an understanding of the microbiome," said Dr. Noubar Afeyan, senior managing partner and CEO of Flagship Ventures, and co-founder of Evelo.
"Flagship VentureLabs has been developing therapeutic platforms based on the microbiome for more than five years," said Dr. David Berry, general partner at Flagship Ventures and co-founder of Evelo. "We believe Evelo's proprietary Oncobiotic platform will lead to many new important products that revolutionize the treatment of cancer through this next-generation immunotherapy and through manipulation of the tumor microenvironment."
Evelo is the newest company focused on the microbiome as a source of novel human treatments to emerge from Flagship VentureLabs®, the innovation foundry of Flagship Ventures. In June, VentureLabs-founded Seres Therapeutics (NASDAQ: MCRB) went public in a $140 million initial public offering.
Evelo announced that Simba Gill, Ph.D., has been appointed chief executive officer. "I'm very excited to be joining Evelo," said Dr. Gill, "which is pioneering microbiome-driven cancer therapies. I look forward to building on Evelo's platform to develop many products that have the potential to improve the lives of cancer patients."
During his 30-year career as entrepreneur, founder and CEO, Dr. Gill has played lead roles in numerous biotech and pharmaceutical companies. Dr. Gill was the founding president of Maxygen, the pioneer in directed molecular evolution technologies for pharmaceutical, chemical and agricultural products. While at Maxygen, Dr. Gill helped found Verdia (acquired by DuPont), Avidia (acquired by Amgen), and Codexis. Before joining Maxygen, Dr. Gill led corporate development in the world's first stem cell company, Systemix, acquired by Novartis. Earlier, he was global marketing director for Recormon, a treatment for anemia, at Boehringer Mannheim, acquired by Roche.
Most recently, Dr. Gill was CEO of moksha8, a leading Latin American pharmaceutical company focused on central nervous system disorders. moksha8 was founded while Dr. Gill was a partner and entrepreneur in residence at Texas Pacific Group, now TPG Capital, a major private equity investor. While at TPG, Dr. Gill also founded the biosimilar antibody company Epirus. Dr. Gill began his career at Celltech, focused on antibody research. Dr. Gill earned his Ph.D. from King's College, London, and his MBA from INSEAD.
"Dr. Gill brings a wealth of knowledge and experience from his remarkable career in pharma and biotech and we are pleased to have him join a select group of industry veterans and luminaries leading Flagship's portfolio companies," said Dr. Afeyan.
Joining Dr. Gill, Dr. Afeyan and Dr. Berry on Evelo's board of directors is Roger Pomerantz M.D., chairman and CEO of Seres Therapeutics. Prior to joining Seres, Dr. Pomerantz was senior vice president and worldwide head of licensing and acquisitions at Merck & Co. Inc.
About Evelo Therapeutics Evelo Therapeutics is dedicated to transforming cancer therapy through a deep understanding of the cancer microbiome. Evelo is discovering and developing Oncobiotic™ therapies, novel treatments designed to attack cancer by disrupting the microbial environment which supports tumors and protects them from the body's immune system. Evelo's platform disrupts the tumor microenvironment at the metabolic and stromal levels and provides next-generation, microbiome-based immunotherapeutics. Founded at Flagship VentureLabs, Evelo is the first microbiome company focused on cancer. For more information, please visit www.evelotx.com.
About Flagship Ventures Realizing entrepreneurial innovation is the mission of Flagship Ventures. Founded in 2000, the firm has launched more than 35 first-in-class companies while investing in another 55. Flagship manages over $1.4 billion in capital and is active in three principal sectors: therapeutics, health technologies, and sustainability. Flagship's current portfolio includes Acceleron (NASDAQ: XLRN), Agios (NASDAQ: AGIO), Seres Therapeutics (NASDAQ: MCRB), T2 Biosystems (NASDAQ: TTOO), as well as several private companies: Editas Medicine, Moderna Therapeutics and Syros Pharmaceuticals. For more information, please visit www.flagshipventures.com.
About Flagship VentureLabs®
Flagship VentureLabs is the innovation foundry of Flagship Ventures. VentureLabs has been creating breakthrough companies since 2000. It is the first institution dedicated to entrepreneurial innovation, where discovery, invention and entrepreneuring are performed simultaneously by a world-class team of scientists, innovators and professional entrepreneurs. VentureLabs innovates, invents, launches and builds startups through a unique, systematic approach that produces best-in-class companies based on in-house innovations. VentureLabs has started 35 life science and technology companies, including Joule Unlimited, Seres Therapeutics, Pronutria Biosciences, Symbiota and Moderna Therapeutics. For more information, please visit www.flagshipventures.com/venturelabs.
SOURCE Flagship Ventures