Novo Ventures, Broad Institute form drug discovery pact

The Broad Institute
Novo Ventures’ interest in working with the Broad is part of a wider shift in strategy. (The Broad Institute)

Novo Ventures has joined with the Broad Institute to support drug discovery projects. The partners will use $25 million in Novo Ventures’ money to fund drug discovery projects led by researchers at the Broad and affiliated organizations.

Together, Novo Ventures—part of Danish investment group Novo Holdings—and the Broad have created the Novo Broad Greenhouse. The joint initiative will give scientists at the Broad and Broad-affiliated faculty at MIT, Harvard University and associated hospitals the chance to access $25 million over the next five years to fund early-stage drug discovery work.

Novo Ventures and the Broad envisage the money funding work to validate new drug targets, assess whether a protein or gene is amenable to pharmacological manipulation or develop assays to determine the potential of therapeutic candidates.

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If such a seed project shows promise, Novo Ventures and the Broad expect the program to secure separate funding to support work to establish a clinical candidate. This second phase of development will also take place within the Greenhouse. Beyond that, projects will advance toward the clinic as part of a newly created biotech startup or with the support of a strategic partner. 

The Broad will provide infrastructure to support the early-stage work through its Center for the Development of Therapeutics, a group within the genomics leader that is designed to function like a biotech. The Broad Chief Scientific Officer Todd Golub thinks pairing the capabilities with Novo Ventures’ support will enable the collaborators to seize the opportunities generated by the Broad’s basic science research. 

“The pace at which we can now discover the biological mechanisms and root causes of disease is staggering. But in so many cases, these discoveries aren't yet making it past the lab,” Golub said in a statement.

Novo Ventures’ interest in helping the Broad take ideas out of its laboratories and into the clinic is part of a wider shift in focus at the investment group, which has traditionally invested primarily in biotechs with clinical-phase compounds. As the Broad collaboration shows, Novo Ventures is now increasingly interested in supporting earlier-stage work.

Other investors have also identified the Broad as a source of promising early-stage projects. In 2017, Deerfield Management committed $50 million to a partnership intended to support early-stage work at the Broad. 

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