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Institutes, Companies Form Business to Bridge Discovery Gap

Brooklyn Bridge

(A. Kotok)

31 October 2016. Three research institutions with pharmaceutical and venture capital companies are creating a new enterprise to fill the drug development gap between proof-of-concept and initial clinical trials. The new company, known as Bridge Medicines, is backed by Takeda Pharmaceuticals in Osaka, Japan and health care investment firms Bay City Capital in San Francisco and Deerfield Management, working with researchers from Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Rockefeller University, and Weill Cornell Medicine, all in New York City.

Bridge Medicines will operate as an extension of a current organization, Tri-Institutional Therapeutics Discovery Institute, or Tri-I TDI, is a not-for-profit consortium of Memorial Sloan Kettering, Rockefeller, and Weill Cornell, that helps researchers in their respective labs move drug discoveries through the proof-of-concept stage. Taking those discoveries to the point of clinical trials, however, takes a good deal more preclinical testing, validation, and product refinement, the kind of work required to file an Investigational New Drug Application with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, authorizing clinical trials of the drug candidate.

This stage is sometimes called the “valley of death,” since many promising new therapies do not advance past proof-of-concept, often due to lack of support, including financial incentives, for academic researchers, and too much risk for biotechnology or pharmaceutical companies to absorb. Bridge Medicines, say its founders, will be designed to support this additional drug development work, including the capital needed for new enterprises to commercialize the discoveries.

Any drug discovery project successfully completing Tri-I TDI will be eligible for further development with Bridge Medicines. The organizers emphasize that discoveries for new orphan drugs affecting small numbers of patients, or to prevent or treat disorders in low-resource regions, such as tropical diseases, will be supported by the new company. Once an Investigational New Drug Application is filed, Bridge Medicines will help participating researchers to establish new companies — based in New York City — that take the drug candidates into clinical trials.

Takeda Pharmaceuticals is already advising Tri-I TDI scientists on drug discovery processes, and will continue its medicinal chemistry and pharma industry support for Bridge Medicines. Bay City Capital and Deerfield Management are venture capital companies specializing in health care and life sciences, which are expected to provide initial investment capital and business management expertise to get the new companies off the ground.

“Bridge Medicines will enable us to advance promising projects farther down the development pipeline, providing new therapies to patients as quickly as possible,” says Tri-I TDI director Michael Foley in a joint statement. “We’re tapping into the distinguished talent at Sloan Kettering, Rockefeller and Weill Cornell Medicine and offering entrepreneurs access to support what’s next in biopharmaceuticals.”

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