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Life Science Investors Raise $1.1B for New Fund

Investor screen

(Stephen Dawson, Unsplash)

15 June 2022. A venture capital company specializing in health and life sciences start-up enterprises is raising $1.1 billion for a new investment fund. Third Rock Ventures in Boston says its new venture fund is the sixth in the company’s history, with a total of $3.8 billion raised so far.

Third Rock Ventures says it invests in new businesses it believes are creating disruptive solutions and breakthroughs in medicine and science. The company finances start-ups founded by scientists in academic labs and research institutes, and in some cases forms and incubates new businesses on its own, based on research licensed from institutions. Third Rock Ventures says it raised $1.1 billion for its new fund that it expects to invest in company’s first venture rounds — series A in venture-speak — as well as in later rounds.

The company says it invested so far in 60 life science and health care companies that created 18 new products addressing a wide range of medical needs including treatments for cancer and heart disease, as well as depression and genetic disorders such as sickle cell disease. Third Rock says it also expects to continue forming and incubating new companies that reflect its investment goals.

Cancer treatments targeting transcription factors

“Our discovery pipeline is as robust as it has ever been,” says Third Rock Ventures partner Reid Huber in a company statement, “and with our established and proven model for integrating deep scientific and medical expertise with operational and business acumen, we are uniquely positioned to advance these innovations to patients.”

In January 2022, Science & Enterprise reported on Septerna Inc. in South San Francisco, a biotechnology company formed by Third Rock Ventures. Septerna is based on research by Robert Lefkowitz professor of biochemistry and medicine at Duke University and winner of the 2012 Nobel Prize for chemistry, with colleagues in Australia. The company is designing small molecule or low molecular weight drugs addressing G protein-coupled receptors, or GPCRs, found on cell surface membranes, and targets for about one in three current prescription drugs. Yet according to Septerna, the vast majority of these drugs today address only six sub-families of GPCRs, leaving out more than 85 percent of potential targets.

Science & Enterprise reported In May 2021 on Flare Therapeutics in Cambridge, Mass., another new business formed by Third Rock Ventures that provided $82 million in first round funding. Flare Therapeutics is creating new cancer treatments addressing transcription factors, some 1,600 proteins in the human genome. Transcription factors bind to DNA and activate or limit gene expression, and are implicated in about one-third of cancer-causing genes. Flare Therapeutics is based on research by several scientific founders in the U.S. and U.K. that study so-called switch sites, pockets of amino acids turning transcription factors on and off. The company says its first products are precision cancer treatments targeting switch sites responsible for cancer-causing mutations.

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