CAMBRIDGE, Mass., July 11, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Evelo Biosciences, a first-in-category biotechnology company developing monoclonal microbials, a new modality of medicine, today announced completion of a $50 million Series B financing round. In addition to Evelo's founding and principal investor, Flagship Pioneering, investors in the round include GV (the venture capital arm of Alphabet, Inc.), Celgene, Mayo Clinic and Alexandria Venture Investments. Proceeds from the financing will be used to advance multiple monoclonal microbial product candidates into clinical studies in oncology and immunoinflammatory diseases in 2018 and to expand the company's product platform.
Monoclonal microbials are orally-delivered medicines that modulate systemic immunology and biology through direct interactions with human cells in the gut. These new medicines are broadly applicable across many diseases, including autoimmune, immunoinflammatory, metabolic, neurological, neuroinflammatory diseases and cancer. Monoclonal microbials have the potential to fundamentally change traditional models of drug discovery and development. By selecting naturally occurring monoclonal microbials with defined biological effects, Evelo can improve the speed, cost and success of drug discovery and development. Evelo's platform enables pharmacological intervention at all stages of disease with naturally occurring, safe and effective monoclonal microbials.
"The development of monoclonal microbials is opening up new possibilities to help patients and enable a whole new modality of medicines. Evelo is pioneering the translation of new discoveries on the interactions between the microbiome and the immune system into a powerful new platform for treating a broad range of diseases," said Noubar Afeyan, Ph.D., chairman of Evelo's board of directors and founder and CEO of Flagship Pioneering. "This growth-stage investment from Flagship and other leaders in innovation and life sciences enables Evelo to advance several monoclonal microbials into clinical trials and to further expand and scale our platform."
Evelo has also appointed several industry leaders to key leadership roles within the company and board appointments including: David R. Epstein, board member; Theo Melas-Kyriazi, board member; Stelios Papadopoulos, special board advisor; Andrea Itano, senior vice president, immuno-inflammatory disease head; Humphrey Gardner, senior vice president, chief of medical oncology; Chun Zhang, senior vice president, process development and manufacturing.
"We are pleased to have such an exceptional group of investors as we enter our clinical stage of development," said Simba Gill, Ph.D., CEO of Evelo Biosciences. "We are also excited to welcome outstanding new leadership team and board members as we deliver on the promise of monoclonal microbials as the next major field of medicine."
About the New Board Members
David R. Epstein is chairman of Rubius Therapeutics and executive partner at Flagship Pioneering. Most recently he served as CEO of Novartis Pharmaceuticals, a division of Novartis AG, from 2010 to mid-2016. Previously, Mr. Epstein started up and led Novartis' Oncology and Molecular Diagnostic units. Under his leadership, the oncology business grew to number two in the world. He has more than 25 years of extensive drug development, deal making, commercialization and people leadership experience on a global scale. Over the course of his career he led the development and commercialization of over 30 new molecular entities including major breakthroughs such as Glivec, Tasigna, Gilenya, Cosentyx and Entresto. David was recently named by FierceBiotech to be among "The 25 most influential in biopharma." Mr. Epstein holds a B.S. degree in pharmacy with high honors from Rutgers University College of Pharmacy and an M.B.A. in finance and marketing from the Columbia University Graduate School of Business.
Theo Melas-Kyriazi is CFO of Levitronix Technologies LLC, a leader in magnetically levitated pumps for microelectronics and bioprocessing applications. He spent nearly two decades at Thermo Electron Corporation (now Thermo Fisher Scientific) in a variety of roles, including six years as CFO. Mr. Melas-Kyriazi has been a director of a number of private and public biopharmaceutical companies.
Dr. Stelios Papadopoulos is chairman of the board of directors of Biogen, Inc., Exelixis, Inc. and Regulus Therapeutics, Inc. He is a co-founder of Exelixis, Inc. as well as co-founder and former chairman of Anadys Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (acquired by Hoffman-La Roche in 2011) and Cellzome, Inc. (acquired by GlaxoSmithKline in 2012. Dr. Papadopoulos retired after a 30-year Wall Street career working with biotech and pharma companies as an analyst and banker at Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, Drexel Burnham Lambert, PaineWebber and most recently Cowen & Co., from which he retired in 2006. Before coming to Wall Street, Dr. Papadopoulos was on the faculty of the Department of Cell Biology at New York University School of Medicine. He maintains his affiliation with NYU as an adjunct associate professor of cell biology. Dr. Papadopoulos holds an M.S. in physics, a Ph.D. in biophysics and an M.B.A. in finance, all from New York University.
Additions to the Executive Leadership Team
Andrea Itano Ph.D. joins Evelo as senior vice president, immuno-inflammatory diseases. Prior to Evelo, Dr. Itano was vice president and head of the Tempero Discovery Performance Unit at GlaxoSmithKline, where she led a team of immunologists and chemists discovering and developing therapies for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases in the Treg and Th17 space. Dr. Itano has also held group leader positions at Amgen and Roche, and was CSO at Tempero Pharma, prior to its buyout by GlaxoSmithKline. Dr. Itano received a B.A. in microbiology and immunology and a Ph.D. in immunology from the University of California, Berkeley. She also completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Immunology at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis.
Humphrey Gardner, M.D., FCAP, joins Evelo as senior vice president, chief of medical oncology. Prior to joining Evelo, he was senior vice president of clinical development at Karyopharm. Dr. Gardner has also held the roles of associate director of discovery and translational research at Biogen, executive director of Oncology Translational Laboratories at Novartis, and VP of early development in both infection and in oncology at AstraZeneca. Earlier in his career, Dr. Gardner was an assistant professor at The Scripps Research Institute. Dr. Gardner trained in medicine at the University of Cambridge and in anatomic pathology at the Beth Israel Hospital, Boston. He also completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Whitehead Institute.
Chun Zhang, Ph.D. joins Evelo as senior vice president, head of process development and manufacturing. Prior to Evelo, Dr. Zhang was VP and head of bioprocess development at Shire where he led development of upstream/downstream manufacturing processes and external clinical drug substance production. While at Shire, he also held positions as senior director of manufacturing sciences and operations support. Earlier in his career, Dr. Zhang was head of cell culture development at Bayer Healthcare LLC and later head of technical operations at WuXi AppTec, Inc. He received his B.S. in chemical engineering from Zhejiang University and his Ph.D. in chemical engineering from University of Minnesota.
About Evelo Biosciences
Evelo Biosciences is dedicated to improving the lives of patients globally through the development of a new modality of medicines – monoclonal microbials. Monoclonal microbials are orally delivered medicines that modulate systemic immunology and biology through direct interactions with human cells in the gut. These new medicines are broadly applicable across many diseases – including autoimmune, immunoinflammatory, metabolic, neurological, neuroinflammatory diseases and cancer. Monoclonal microbials have the potential to fundamentally change traditional models of drug discovery and development. By finding and selecting naturally occurring monoclonal microbials with defined therapeutic effects, Evelo can improve the speed, cost and success of drug discovery and development. Evelo's platform enables pharmacological intervention at all stages of disease with naturally occurring, safe and effective monoclonal microbials. Evelo Biosciences was conceived and created within VentureLabs®, Flagship Pioneering's institutional innovation foundry, and launched by Flagship in 2015.
Flagship Pioneering conceives, creates, resources and develops first-in-category life sciences companies. Its institutional innovation foundry, Flagship VentureLabs®, is where Flagship's team of scientific entrepreneurs systematically evolves enterprising ideas into new fields or previously undiscovered areas of science into real-world inventions and ventures. Since its launch in 2000, the firm has applied its hypothesis-driven innovation process to originate and foster nearly 100 scientific ventures, resulting in over $20 billion in aggregate value, 500+ issued patents and more than 45 clinical trials for novel therapeutic agents.
Since inception, Flagship has capitalized its growing portfolio with over $1 billion coming from $1.75 billion of aggregate investor capital committed across its five funds. The firm's current portfolio includes pioneering ventures that are transforming human health and sustainability, including: Agios Pharmaceuticals, Editas Medicine, Seres Therapeutics and Syros Pharmaceuticals, as well as private companies, including Axcella Health, Indigo Agriculture, Moderna Therapeutics and Rubius Therapeutics. Flagship has ongoing corporate innovation alliances with several market leaders, including: AstraZeneca, the Crop Science Division of Bayer and Nestlé Health Science.