CAMBRIDGE, Mass., July 12, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Flagship Ventures today announced the merger of its portfolio companies Evelo Biosciences and Epiva Biosciences to create the leading immuno-microbiome company, developing therapeutics for cancer, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. The new entity will keep the name Evelo Biosciences and operate under the leadership of CEO and President, Simba Gill, Ph.D. Noubar Afeyan, Ph.D., CEO of Flagship Ventures, was named chairman of the combined company.
Evelo and Epiva were both founded by Flagship's VentureLabs innovation foundry in 2014 and followed the lineage of prior VentureLabs-founded microbiome companies Seres Therapeutics (launched in 2012) and Indigo Agriculture (launched in 2013). The Evelo-Epiva merger results in a 42-person company and combines each team's pioneering research findings, product candidates and intellectual property protected by over 50 patents and applications. Flagship has financed the company with about $40 million to date and plans to make additional investments to support its rapid growth.
The combined entity establishes the definitive immuno-microbiome therapeutics platform, building upon both organizations' recognition that the microbiome and immune system interact to form a largely unrecognized and uncharacterized metasystem, the immuno-microbiome. Evelo is at the forefront of deciphering the interactions between the immune system and the microbiome to discover novel therapeutics.
"The immune system functions in the context of its interactions with the microbiome and vice versa. Deciphering these interactions presents significant opportunities to develop new medicines for patients across multiple disease areas, including next wave cancer immunotherapy and treatment for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases," said Dr. Afeyan, Chairman, Evelo Biosciences and CEO of Flagship Ventures. "As the microbiome field begins to turn its attention to diseases beyond gut infections, we see the combination of these two first-mover companies as an important strategic development aimed at creating sufficient critical mass to lead the field."
"I look forward to accelerating and broadening Evelo's development through this strategic combination," said Dr. Gill "With our expanded team working together on the immuno-microbiome, we expect to more rapidly advance multiple new product candidates into the clinic, build partnerships and deliver important treatments to patients who need them."
Mark Pruzanski, M.D., co-founder, CEO and President of Intercept Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and David Perry, CEO and President of Indigo Agriculture, join Chairman Noubar Afeyan, Ph.D., CEO Simba Gill, Ph.D., and co-founder David Berry, MD., Ph.D., on Evelo's Board of Directors. Evelo also has made additions to its executive leadership team: Jackie Papkoff, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, Research; Anil Jina, M.D., Chief Medical Officer; and Derek Adams, Ph.D., Senior Vice President, CMC.
About the New Board Members
Dr. Pruzanski is a co-founder, CEO and President of Intercept Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and has extensive experience in founding and building numerous other life science companies. Before starting Intercept Pharmaceuticals, he was previously a venture partner at Apple Tree Partners, an early-stage life sciences venture capital firm he co-founded in 1999.
Mr. Perry, CEO of Indigo Agriculture, is a serial entrepreneur who has founded and built three innovative companies in the last 18 years, leading the last two through successful IPOs and to multi-billion-dollar market capitalizations. Mr. Perry was most recently CEO and co-founder of Anacor Pharmaceuticals, a biopharmaceutical company, discovering and developing novel small-molecule therapeutics to treat infectious and inflammatory diseases.
Additions to the Executive Leadership Team
Dr. Papkoff joins Evelo as Senior Vice President, Research from the J&J California Innovation Center, where she was one of the founding members and served as Vice President of Immunology. She has held leadership roles in several biotech and pharma companies, including Aventis Pharma, diaDexus Corporation and Megabios Corporation, and was a consulting professor of cancer biology at Stanford University for 10 years.
Dr. Adams is the Senior Vice President, CMC at Evelo Biosciences. During his career, Dr. Adams has focused on the process development and manufacturing of human therapeutics including vaccines, small molecules, and proteins. Prior to Evelo, Dr. Adams was the Vice President of Technical and Strategic Product Development at Alexion Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and lead teams responsible for process technical support of drug substance manufacturing of Varicella and Rotavirus vaccines at Merck & Co. Inc.
Dr. Jina joins Evelo as Chief Medical Officer from Shire where he was Senior Vice President and Head of Global Medical Affairs. Prior to that, Dr. Jina worked at Sanofi as Region Medical Officer, Europe and Country Medical Head, Ireland and at Pfizer as Global Medical Director, Psychiatry and CNS Medical Adviser, UK. He brings extensive global biopharmaceutical industry and clinical experience across multiple therapeutic areas.
About Evelo Biosciences
Founded in 2014, Evelo Biosciences has established the leading therapeutics discovery and development platform based on the human immuno-microbiome, the inter-connected metasystem comprising the human immune system and the human microbiome. Evelo is developing onco-microbials for the treatment of cancer and immuno-microbials for the treatment of autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. The company is translating its insights into the immuno-microbiome into a range of product candidates, which are being advanced toward first human testing in 2017.
For more information, please visit www.evelobio.com.
Flagship Ventures creates and develops pioneering companies through its unique science-based innovation platform. With $1.4 billion in capital under management across five funds, its team of scientist-entrepreneurs have used hypothesis-driven experimentation to make innovations that tackle the world's biggest challenges in human health, sustainable agriculture and renewable energy. Working as scientific co-founders, as well as business partners, Flagship's team explores hundreds of venture hypotheses, refining and perfecting those few that underpin the market-disrupting companies of the future.
Flagship's health care companies are developing breakthrough medicines to cure diseases and enhance quality of life for patients around the world. In sustainability, it is working to dramatically advance the state of agriculture, nutrition, clean water and renewable energy. Flagship's current portfolio includes Agios, Seres Therapeutics, Editas Medicine, Syros, as well as private companies including Moderna Therapeutics, Indigo Agriculture, Axcella Biosciences. The firm has established strategic innovation partnerships with market leaders AstraZeneca, Merck, Bayer CropScience and Nestle Health Science.
Since its founding in 2000, Flagship has conceived and launched more than 40 first-in-class companies through its VentureLabs™ innovation foundry; it has supported and developed another 45 best-in-class companies working with collaborators and academic innovations.
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SOURCE Flagship Ventures