Third Rock Ventures launches Tango Therapeutics
Third Rock Ventures announced the launch of Tango Therapeutics, a new cancer therapeutics company discovering and developing novel medicines designed to target cancer vulnerabilities beyond mutated oncogenes to deliver transformational new therapies for patients.
Tango was launched with a $55 million Series A investment from Third Rock Ventures. The company has established a robust product engine that leverages advances in DNA sequencing and CRISPR-based target discovery to generate breakthrough medicines that will provide deeper, more sustained benefit than today’s targeted therapies, and extend the benefit of available immuno-oncology agents.
“Cancers are complex genetic diseases marked by multiple lesions in each tumor. These include genes that are turned on to drive cancer growth and those that are inactivated and thus, unable to function as tumor suppressors,” said Barbara Weber, M.D., Tango’s interim chief executive officer and a Venture Partner at Third Rock Ventures. “Loss of tumor suppressor genes is a hallmark of cancer, but the genes, themselves, are not tractable targets for drug discovery. The availability of comprehensive DNA sequencing, coupled with CRISPR-enabled target discovery, provides us with new paths to identify novel drug targets and combinations that take advantage of vulnerabilities created by loss of tumor suppressor gene function—something we have been unable to do effectively in the past. With the sophisticated genomics tools now available, the time is right for Tango to take on this challenge and focus on patients without effective treatment options.”
Tango is focused on three areas of drug development, each in well-defined patient populations currently lacking effective treatment options, and each with hallmarks of cancer that have not been targeted yet. These include:
- Loss of tumor suppressor gene function: A universal feature of cancer is the inactivation of genes which normally protect against tumor development. Tango is working to turn tumor suppressor gene loss from cancer’s strength into a weakness by identifying associated targetable vulnerabilities, an effect known as synthetic lethality. Drugs against synthetic lethal targets have the potential added benefit of effectiveness against cancer cells without damaging normal cells.
- Multiple oncogenic drivers: To address the multiple genetic changes that give rise to cancer, Tango is working to identify novel targets for rational combinations that will offer more robust treatment effects than is possible with single-agent approaches. Decades of cancer research have shown that with the right drug combinations in the right patients, cancers can be curable.
- Immune evasion: Complementing current, immune-cell-directed cancer therapies, Tango is working to identify and target the genetic alterations in cancer cells responsible for helping them avoid immune destruction. Drugs against these targets could substantially increase the benefit of current immuno-oncology drugs without increasing immune damage to normal tissues.
The Tango founders are a group of internationally recognized scientists and clinicians who have shaped the current state of knowledge and practice in cancer biology and genetics, translational medicine and CRISPR technology:
- Alan Ashworth, Ph.D., FRS, president of the University of California San Francisco Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center
- José Baselga, M.D., Ph.D., physician-in-chief at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center
- Levi Garraway, M.D., Ph.D., senior vice president of Global Oncology at Eli Lilly
- William Kaelin, M.D., professor in the Department of Medicine at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard Medical School and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator
- Timothy K. Lu, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of Biological Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
- Antoni Ribas, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Medicine, Surgery, and Molecular and Medical Pharmacology at the University of California Los Angeles