New CEO, major Roche biobucks pact: Now, Rheos nabs ex-Biogen R&D exec as CSO

cancer cell surrounded by killer T cells
The biotech is targeting cancer as well as autoimmune diseases (NIH)

Dania Rabah, Ph.D., has become the new chief scientific officer at startup Rheos Medicines, coming off a stint as the head of the drug discovery incubator, research and early development at Biogen.

This comes exactly one year after Barbara Fox, Ph.D., took over from interim CEO Abbie Celniker, Ph.D., a partner at Third Rock Ventures, which launched Rheos with $60 million in March 2018.

Celniker ceded the reins the September before when Third Rock poached Sanjay Keswani, M.D., from Roche, but took them up again this July when Keswani headed to Annexon Biosciences to become its chief medical officer.

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Rheos’ work focuses on “metabolism-tuning” therapies. It’s targeting autoimmune disease and cancer by aiming at metabolic pathways in immune cells that are linked to disease and “re-tuning” the immune responses that go awry in those diseases.

Rabah, who had been a biopharma consultant since leaving Biogen in 2019, will now help lead these efforts.

Late last year, Rheos also got off a near $800 million biobucks deal with Swiss major Roche to seek out and develop new meds for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. Under the deal, cancer giant Roche will gain an “exclusive research effort” to seek out new drugs in immunometabolism using the startup’s platform that “modify the fate or function of certain human immune cells.”

“Rheos is delighted to welcome Dania to our team,” said Fox. “Her deep knowledge of immunology, coupled with her extensive experience building research teams and advancing programs from inception through clinical proof of concept, makes her an ideal addition to our rapidly growing company.”

“Immunometabolism serves as a framework to both identify novel target biology and develop a superior understanding of immune-mediated disease,” added Rabah. “I am thrilled to join this exciting team, and to help lead the translation of these insights into new medicines to meet the needs of patients.”

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