Maze Therapeutics has partnered to create two startups focused on cardiovascular and ophthalmic diseases. The startups will benefit from Maze’s human genetics and functional genomics platform as well as the capabilities of either Alloy Therapeutics or BridgeBio Pharma.
Last year, Third Rock Ventures launched Maze with a $191 million financing. Maze went on to be part of the Fierce 15 class of 2019, at which point CEO Jason Coloma, Ph.D., said the company is part of a “new breed of biotech companies” with the resources to eschew traditional business development deals. Coloma planned to use that freedom to do a “more creative type of dealmaking” in 2020.
With weeks to go until the end of the year, Maze has unveiled two deals that shed light on how it is approaching business development. Both deals see Maze partner to form new biotechs that benefit from the expertise and resources of two parent companies.
Maze has worked with BridgeBio Pharma to create Contour Therapeutics, a cardiovascular disease biotech initially focused on a genetically defined form of heart failure. Contour will leverage Maze’s approach to drug discovery, which entails searching for genetic combinations that stop people from developing deleterious phenotypes, along with BridgeBio’s expertise in cardiac drug discovery and clinical development.
The arrangement further tightens ties between Maze and BridgeBio, two members of the new breed of biotechs identified by Coloma that involve some of the same people. Richard Scheller, Ph.D., is on the board at Maze and chairman of R&D at BridgeBio, while Charles Homcy, M.D., is chairman of pharma at BridgeBio and a founder of Maze.
Homcy and BridgeBio CEO Neil Kumar, Ph.D., were involved in the early years of MyoKardia, a biotech that showed the potential of a genetic approach to cardiovascular disease by attracting a $13.1 billion buyout from Bristol Myers Squibb. Contour is now following in the footsteps of MyoKardia.
The second new biotech created by Maze is Broadwing Bio, an ophthalmic disease startup it has created in partnership with Alloy Therapeutics. Maze is providing genetically validated targets. Alloy will use its antibody discovery technologies to generate candidates against the targets. Both founding organizations will fund preclinical and clinical work, with scope to involve third-party investors, and retain rights to participate in development and commercialization of the assets.
Maze’s interest in forming new biotechs to make use of its drug discovery work is, in part, a result of the broad potential of its platform, which is designed to identify genetic modifiers that stop people from getting sick. Depending on how common protective gene-gene interactions are, the platform could enable Maze to generate a pool of candidates big enough to keep multiple companies busy.