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$2.9 billion for French drug giant Sanofi-Aventis. The patents on the drug begin to expire later this year, after which it will begin to be fair game for generic rivals. But BIND wants to improve, not copy, the therapy.
Bind’s nanoparticles—which were invented by founders Bob Langer, the renowned MIT bioengineer and entrepreneur, and Omid Farokhzad, a Harvard Medical School associate professor based at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston—are designed to deliver high concentrations of drugs to diseased tissues while minimizing the amount that circulates through the rest of the body. This approach has the potential to reduce the side effects of drugs. (Here’s a link to the company’s explanation of its technology.) [Correction: Farokhzah is an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, not an assistant professor as was initially reported in this story.]
The company is focused on developing treatments for cancer, cardiovascular disease, and inflammatory ailments. The firm has also proved in lab experiments that its nanoparticles can carry nucleic acids such as RNA-interference (RNAi) therapies, which hold tremendous promise to turn off disease-causing genes yet are tricky to deliver to tissues deep in the body. Minick declined to forecast his company’s future in the RNAi field, in which companies such as Cambridge, MA-based Alnylam Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ:ALNY) has sought out small firms and academic with drug-delivery expertise to form partnership and other collaborations.
On the investor front, Minick said that the addition of Koch, the executive vice president and a board member at multi-industry conglomerate Koch Industries, to the syndicate that is backing BIND, adds someone with business expertise and strong contacts in the cancer research community. Koch is the namesake of the David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT. (His investment was made through his personal investment firm, DHK Investment.) BIND’s other investors are the founding backers Flagship Ventures and Polaris Venture Partners, ARCH, and nanotechnology-focused venture firm NanoDimension. The startup has now raised $29.5 million in venture financing. [Clarification: This paragraph was changed to add ARCH among the list of backers in the company. This change was made for the sake of clarity, as ARCH was noted as an investor earlier in this story.]
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