Third Rock launches cancer drug developer with $40M bankroll

Flush with venture cash and willing to take a bold lead on start-up biotechs, Third Rock announced this morning that it is launching a new drug developer dubbed Blueprint Medicines which will focus on delivering personalized cancer drugs. The venture group is pumping in $40 million in a Series A after gathering together some of the country's top scientific talent concentrating on kinase inhibitors. And Third Rock partner Mark Levin, the former CEO at Millennium, is stepping on to the board.

The new developer is starting out with a sterling scientific pedigree. Nicholas Lydon, Ph.D., and Brian Druker, M.D., who won the 2009 Lasker-DeBakey Award for Clinical Medical Research for their role in the development of the pioneering kinase inhibitor Gleevec, co-founded the company with Chris Varma, Ph.D., and David Armistead, Ph.D., who step in as the new CEO and CSO.

The venture deal underscores Third Rock's unique investment strategy: Going in early with enough money to get an upstart biotech company to the point where it can demonstrate some potential. Lydon tells The Boston Globe's Robert Weisman that the fledgling company plans to hire a dozen biologists and chemists to blueprint important cancer triggers. "There are a lot of dark corners we still don't understand," Lydon tells The Globe. "But we really think the time is right now to take a very broad, systematic approach to targeting these cancers.''

"By leveraging the growing body of molecular and cancer genome data and focusing on patients with clearly defined molecular aberrations, Blueprint Medicines is positioned to develop the selective cancer treatments that will make this transformation possible," said Lydon.

- see the press release
- here's the story from The Boston Globe

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