Rubius Therapeutics, a Cambridge, MA-based newly formed company that develops functionalized red blood cells for the treatment of autoimmune conditions, metabolic diseases, cancer, and other serious diseases, received $25m in funding.
The founding investment was made by Flagship Ventures.
The company intends to use the funds to enter clinical testing of its novel therapeutic modality.
Led by founding CEO and Flagship VentureLabs partner Avak Kahvejian, Ph.D., Rubius is advancing Red-Cell Therapeutics™ (RCTs), which are a new treatment modality possessing pharmacodynamic and pharmacokinetic advantages over traditional therapeutics, due to their natural ability to engage and modulate the immune system and circulate for extended periods in the body.
One of the diseases the company intends to initially target is phenylketonuria (PKU), a disease of metabolism that affects as many as one in 13,000 births in the U.S. and is responsible for about 300 new cases each year.
Since emerging from Flagship VentureLabs 18 months ago, Rubius has been developing its RCT platform in stealth mode. The company, which has established a broad patent estate covering its platform and therapeutic products, is currently testing RCTs in animal models of disease, and plans to initiate human clinical trials in the very near future.
The Rubius board of directors includes:
– Noubar Afeyan, Ph.D., senior managing partner and CEO of Flagship Ventures;
– Harvey Lodish, Ph.D., professor of biology and bioengineering at MIT and a member of the Whitehead Institute, who is a scientific founder of Rubius;
– Jim Gilbert, a healthcare investor and former partner and director at Bain & Co., who serves on several boards, including the board of Nestle Health Sciences, and serves as chairman of Rubius.
– Robert S. Langer, Ph.D., Institute Professor at MIT and the holder of more than 1,000 patents,
– Dr. Roger Pomerantz, chairman and CEO of Seres Health and former worldwide head of licensing and acquisitions, senior vice president at Merck & Co. Inc.,
– Dr. Michael Rosenblatt, executive vice president and chief medical officer of Merck & Co. Inc., and former dean of the Tufts University School of Medicine, and
– Peter Hutt, senior counsel at Covington & Burling and former chief counsel of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.