Based: Lexington, MA
The Scoop: Armed with a simple understanding that strategically replacing hydrogen molecules in therapeutics with deuterium can improve a drug's performance, Roger Tung created Concert Pharmaceuticals and raised $95.5 million in venture funds in less than two years, making believers of some of the most successful start-up artists in biotechnology. Now it's time to deliver the data.
What makes it Fierce: Roger Tung isn't the only scientist to explore the potential for deuterium. But he's shown just how much an individual with keen scientific insight--along with a few good contacts in the venture field--can accomplish. He has swiftly banked enough money to get to the proof-of-concept stage, developed a platform approach to drug development that can spawn new clinical candidates as well as partnerships, and pushed hard to get it all up and running in a short period of time.
In many ways Tung represents the potential biotechnology has to swiftly breed new companies and advance fresh ideas. He's taken an approach that allows the company to develop a portfolio of drug candidates, rather than put all of its eggs in one basket. And he's recruited more than 40 staffers to make it a reality.
Concert's lead therapy is a deuterium-enhanced drug for hot flashes, a potential blockbuster in a field that has been roiled by safety issues now surrounding hormone replacement therapy. Phase I data from an initial trial should be in by the end of this year with Phase Ib data on drug-drug interactions arriving around early 2009.
What to look for: Concert Pharma got off to a fast start by focusing on simple alterations that can deliver significant upgrades in therapeutics. Now it can start to partner with other developers to advance a variety of programs as it stays focused on delivering data for its own clinical candidates.