PureTech, Siddhartha Mukherjee launch Vor BioPharma
PureTech Health has launched Vor BioPharma, an immuno-oncology company dedicated to developing a new class of targeted cell therapies. The company, which is advancing a novel approach to chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy, has licensed its core technology from the lab of Vor scientific co-founder, Siddhartha Mukherjee, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of Medicine at Columbia University and Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer.
“CAR T-cell therapies have shown remarkable progress in the clinic, yet their applicability beyond a small subset of cancers is currently very limited,” said Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, M.D., Ph.D., Vor scientific advisory board member, professor of Radiology and Bioengineering, chair of the Department of Radiology, director of the Canary Center for Cancer Early Detection and director of the Molecular Imaging Program at Stanford University. “This technology seeks to address bottlenecks that prevent CAR T-cell therapy from becoming more broadly useful in treating cancers outside of B-cell cancers.”
Researchers continue to make big advances in using the immune system to fight cancer. CAR T-cell therapy, which modifies the body’s own immune cells (T-cells) to recognize and kill cancer cells, has emerged as a promising therapy for patients with advanced B-cell leukemias. These approaches have focused on targeting markers that are present on all B-cells, both healthy and cancerous. While the body can safely function without B-cells, using CAR T-cell therapy to treat other cancers—which would involve targeting cells necessary for survival—remains elusive. Furthermore, CAR T-cell therapy has shown more limited results in treating solid tumors. Vor is developing an entirely new approach to CAR T-cell therapy that seeks to broaden its applicability in other cancers, particularly those with limited therapeutic options, by removing key barriers generated by current modalities.
“We continue to make great strides in developing new ways to treat cancer using the body’s immune system,” said Dr. Mukherjee. “The positive clinical response researchers have achieved with CAR T-cell therapies in B-cell leukemias has led to great interest within the oncology community and is something we hope to achieve in other cancers over time.”
The company’s team of scientific founders and Scientific Advisory Board (SAB) members includes:
- Joseph Bolen, Ph.D., SAB member and acting chief scientific officer of Vor BioPharma and former president and chief scientific officer of Moderna Therapeutics. Dr. Bolen has more than 30 years of industry and research experience and has been at the forefront of cancer and immunology research. He began his career at the NIH, where he contributed to the discovery of a class of proteins known as tyrosine kinase oncogenes as key regulators of the immune system. Dr. Bolen most recently oversaw all aspects of research and development for Moderna. Previously, he was chief scientific officer and global head of Oncology Research at Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company. Prior to joining Millennium in 1999, Dr. Bolen held senior research and development positions at Hoechst Marion Roussel, Schering-Plough, and Bristol-Myers Squibb.
- Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Radiology, Materials Science & Engineering, and Bioengineering at Stanford University, where he is also the chair of the department of Radiology, director of the Canary Center for Cancer Early Detection and director of the Molecular Imaging Program. He is the recipient of over $90M in NIH funding as the principal investigator and served on the NCI Board of Scientific advisors for eight years.
- Dan Littman, M.D., Ph.D., a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and the Helen L. and Martin S. Kimmel Professor of Molecular Immunology and professor of Pathology and Microbiology at New York University (NYU) School of Medicine. Dr. Littman is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is a member of the National Academy of Sciences.
- Siddhartha Mukherjee, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of Medicine at Columbia University and oncologist. Dr. Mukherjee is the author of The Emperor of All Maladies: A Biography of Cancer, winner of the 2011 Pulitzer Prize in general nonfiction, and The Laws of Medicine. He has published articles in numerous publications, including Nature, The New England Journal of Medicine, Cell and The New York Times.
- Derrick J. Rossi, Ph.D., associate professor in the Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology Department at Harvard Medical School and Harvard University. Dr. Rossi is an investigator in the Program in Cellular and Molecular Medicine at Boston Children’s Hospital, and is also a principal faculty member of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute. Dr. Rossi co-founded Moderna Therapeutics and Intellia Therapeutics.
Vor BioPharma is an immuno-oncology company dedicated to developing a new class of targeted cell therapies to treat highly fatal malignancies. The company is advancing a novel approach to chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy that has the potential to broaden its applicability and success rate in other cancers. Co-founded by PureTech Health, Vor is working with leading oncologists and immunologists to develop a pipeline of potentially life-altering immunotherapies that extend beyond what is possible with current treatments.
PureTech Health owns approximately 91% of the company on a diluted basis as of December 31, 2015. This calculation includes issued and outstanding shares as well as options to purchase shares and written commitments to issue shares or options, but excludes unallocated shares authorized to be issued pursuant to equity incentive plans.