Enlight Biosciences Launched in Collaboration with Merck & Co., Inc., Pfizer, and Eli Lilly

BOSTON, July 10 /PRNewswire/ -- Enlight Biosciences, a new Boston-based company conceived by PureTech Ventures together with several major pharmaceutical companies, announced today that it will direct up to $39M to advance breakthrough technologies that can fundamentally alter drug discovery and development. Enlight assembles unique innovative technologies in collaboration with its industry members. Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK), Pfizer Inc. (PFE), and Eli Lilly (LLY) are the founding members and as members, have the opportunity to invest in the development of these technologies.

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Enlight was co-founded by PureTech Ventures and academic luminaries led by Dr. H. Robert Horvitz, Enlight's SAB Chair, Nobel Laureate, Howard Hughes Investigator, and Koch Professor of Biology at MIT; Dr. Sam Gambhir, Professor of Radiology, Chief of the Division of Nuclear Medicine, Stanford; Dr. Rakesh Jain, Cook Professor of Tumor Biology at MGH in the Harvard Medical School; and Dr. Raju Kucherlapati, co-founder of Millennium and Abgenix, Cabot Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School.

Enlight's team also includes leading drug developers, such as Dr. Frank Douglas, PureTech Ventures Partner, former Chief Scientific Officer and Executive Vice President of Aventis; and Dr. Bennett Shapiro, PureTech Ventures Partner, former Executive Vice President of Basic Research and Worldwide Licensing at Merck & Co., Inc.

"The biopharmaceutical industry has a great need for innovative enabling technologies that will catalyze fundamental transformation of the drug discovery and development process. A collaborative entrepreneurial initiative such as Enlight that is dedicated to such technological innovation in R&D meets that need in an ideal way. We are excited about our partnership with Enlight and its team of world-renowned scientists," stated Dr. Steven Paul, Executive Vice President, Science and Technology, Eli Lilly and Company and President, Lilly Research Laboratories.

Enlight is focused on technology that will connect preclinical research, clinical development, and medical practice. Enlight develops these technologies in a "pre-competitive" model to meet the needs of the consortium of Enlight founders, applying a variety of scientific approaches, including both traditional pharmaceutical company expertise and more entrepreneurial approaches. Enlight has already initiated programs in the areas of molecular imaging, biologics, and drug delivery and is planning to launch programs in other areas.

Dr. Rod MacKenzie, Senior Vice President of Pfizer Global R&D, said "The need for breakthrough technologies that enable innovation in biopharmaceutical science is an urgent priority for all of us engaged in bringing new medicines to patients. Enlight Biosciences is a creative new venture with a team of world-leading scientists. We are pleased to partner with Enlight Biosciences in this exciting new business model."

Historical examples of vital enabling technologies include PCR, PET, antibody humanization and more recently RNAi and gene microarrays. Despite the importance of these technologies, over the last few years most traditional life science investors have focused their funding on late-stage therapeutic programs. As a consequence, important technologies that could be of great strategic impact to the pharmaceutical industry are not being commercialized.

"Enlight's strategy provides a means to apply emerging technologies that may enhance the probability of success in discovering and developing new medicines for patients," stated Dr. Mervyn J. Turner, Senior Vice President, Worldwide Licensing and External Research, Merck & Co., Inc. "Creative models such as this are important to the future success of our industry."

"At a time when there is concern over productivity in R&D, Enlight Biosciences is providing a safe haven where leaders in the pharmaceutical industry can develop tools that will accelerate innovation and delivery of novel drugs to patients," stated Dr. Frank Douglas.

Areas of interest include technologies that increase the ultimate likelihood of success of drugs that pass early development milestones (e.g., drug discovery, chemistry and synthesis platforms); technologies for early prediction of human response (e.g., predictive efficacy models, predictors of pharmacokinetics and toxicology); technologies that provide accurate readouts of both animal and human response to intervention (e.g., molecular imaging and biomarkers); and technologies that make promising chemical and biological compounds better suited to human treatment (e.g., formulation and drug delivery technologies).

Dr. Raju Kucherlapati said, "Enlight turns the standard approach to technology development on its head. Enlight starts with the most pressing unmet needs in the industry and works with industry and academic leaders to creatively address these needs, in contrast with the more typical technology-centric approach. That allows us to focus on the most critical problems facing the industry."

About Pfizer

Pfizer Inc, founded in 1849, is dedicated to better health and greater access to healthcare for people and their valued animals. Every day, approximately 90,000 colleagues in more than 150 countries work to discover, develop, manufacture and deliver quality, safe and effective prescription medicines to patients. www.pfizer.com

About Merck

Merck & Co., Inc. is a global research-driven pharmaceutical company dedicated to putting patients first. Established in 1891, Merck discovers, develops, manufactures and markets vaccines and medicines to address unmet medical needs. The company devotes extensive efforts to increase access to medicines through far-reaching programs that not only donate Merck medicines but help deliver them to the people who need them. Merck also publishes unbiased health information as a not-for-profit service. Additional information about Merck is available at www.merck.com

About Eli Lilly

Lilly, a leading innovation-driven corporation, is developing a growing portfolio of first-in-class and best-in-class pharmaceutical products by applying the latest research from its own worldwide laboratories and from collaborations with eminent scientific organizations. Headquartered in Indianapolis, Ind., Lilly provides answers -- through medicines and information -- for some of the world's most urgent medical needs. Additional information about Lilly is available at www.lilly.com

About Enlight

Enlight is a Boston-based company established in partnership with major pharmaceutical companies to develop breakthrough innovations that will fundamentally alter drug discovery and development.

Enlight was founded by PureTech Ventures and a team of industry leaders and academic luminaries. Enlight proactively addresses critical unmet industry needs with innovations drawn from academic laboratories, startups, and ideas generated internally by the Enlight team. Contact: David Steinberg, Founding CEO Enlight Biosciences, Senior Principal, PureTech Ventures. [email protected]


About PureTech Ventures

PureTech Ventures is a Boston-based venture creation firm specializing in translating breakthrough research from top tier academic institutions into therapies that will impact human health. PureTech's Partners include entrepreneurs and leaders from the top echelon of pharma, biotech and academia including Dr. Ronald Cape (founder, Cetus), Dr. Robert Langer (renowned MIT professor), Dr. Frank Douglas (former Chief Scientific Officer, Aventis), Dr. Bennett Shapiro (former EVP Worldwide Basic and External Research, Merck), Dr. John Zabriskie (former CEO Pharmacia & Upjohn), and Daphne Zohar (PureTech Founder and Managing Partner). www.PureTechVentures.com

SOURCE Enlight Biosciences