Company Created to Understand the Cellular Ecosystem of Disease Through Single-Cell Genomics
CAMBRIDGE, Mass., May 15, 2018
Celsius Therapeutics, a company translating single-cell genomic insights into precision therapeutics for autoimmune diseases and cancer, launched today with a $65 million Series A financing led by Third Rock Ventures with participation from GV (formerly Google Ventures), Heritage Provider Network, Casdin Capital, Alexandria Venture Investments and other key investors. Celsius is charting a new course of target and drug discovery by understanding the specific cells, among many others, that are key players in disease and by identifying the genes that are triggering their malfunction.
Celsius’ fundamentally new approach aims to combine the power of single-cell genomic sequencing with computational algorithms to discover first-in-class precision therapies that have a transformative impact on the lives of patients with autoimmune diseases and cancer. To do this, the company applies a systematic approach, starting with single-cell sequencing on defined patient samples to identify and understand the individual cells and their interactions that cause dis-ease.
By analyzing single cells, Celsius’ approach has the potential to understand the causes of disease at an entirely new level of resolution that overcomes limitations of traditional genomic sequencing approaches. Celsius believes this approach could be the key to bring precision medicines to autoimmune diseases for the first time. These cellular insights could also allow Celsius to identify the right combination of treatments for the right patients and build on the promising results seen in the field of immunooncology.
Celsius was co-founded by Aviv Regev, Ph.D., core institute member, chair of the faculty and director of the Klarman Cell Observatory at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Professor of Biology at MIT and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Her research revealed that many diseases are driven by the combined dysfunction of several specific cell types, and the interactions between them. Traditional genomic sequencing cannot identify these individual contributions, as only the average can be seen and key critical causes can be missed. For the first time, with the approaches discovered by Aviv and Celsius’ other founders, the company will combine massive datasets of unprecedented size and complexity with sophisticated machine learning algorithms. Celsius will be able to distinguish the specific cells, among many others, that play a key role in disease and identify the genes that are triggering their malfunction. This approach will allow the company to more efficiently identify specific targets for treating diseases in specific patients and ultimately develop medicines for those targets.
“When first meeting with Aviv and her colleagues and learning about the significance of this new technology, we knew this had to become a company. We formed Celsius with the goal of bringing a novel precision medicine approach to underserved patients with autoimmune diseases and certain cancers,” said Christoph Lengauer, Ph.D., co-founder and president of Celsius and venture partner at Third Rock Ventures. “With the new level of clarity provided by single-cell sequencing, our team will be able to address many of the challenges of the current treatments and introduce a new class of medicines that will lead to better outcomes and potential cures.”
Expert Team of Scientists and Clinicians
Celsius’ founders are established leaders with experience across the company’s entire product engine, from single-cell RNA sequencing to computational biology, disease biology and drug discovery.
- Jeffrey Bluestone, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer, Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, University of California, San Francisco; A.W. and Mary Margaret Clausen Distinguished Professor
- Vijay Kuchroo, D.V.M., Ph.D., Samuel L. Wasserstrom professor of neurology, Harvard Medical School; senior scientist, neurology, Brigham and Women’s Hospital; associate member, Broad Institute; director, Evergrande Center for Immunologic Diseases, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital
- Christoph Lengauer, Ph.D., venture partner, Third Rock Ventures; president, Celsius Therapeutics; adjunct associate professor, Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
- Aviv Regev, Ph.D., Chair of the Faculty and core institute member, and director, Klarman Cell Observatory, Broad Institute; professor, Department of Biology, MIT; Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute
- Ramnik Xavier, M.D., chief of gastroenterology, Massachusetts General Hospital; institute member, Broad Institute; Kurt Isselbacher professor of medicine, Harvard Medical School
Celsius has licensed key technologies from the Broad Institute based on the work of Drs Regev and Kuchroo, including non-exclusive licenses to single-cell technologies and an exclusive license to early stage therapeutic programs.
“Each of us is made up of tens of trillions of cells. At the core of founding Celsius was the new ability to see something we could not see before. We can now see the dysfunction of key cells and their interactions within their neighborhood. Diseases that we have struggled to understand now can become crystal clear. With that clarity, we hope to create novel precision medicines,” said Alexis Borisy, partner at Third Rock Ventures and chairman of Celsius Therapeutics. “We believe this approach and the incredible group that has been assembled by the founders have the unique potential to deliver a powerful new class of medicines and make a meaningful difference for patients.”
About Celsius Therapeutics
Celsius Therapeutics is charting a new course of target and drug discovery by understanding the specific cells, among many others, that are key players in disease and by identifying the genes that are triggering their malfunction.
The company is applying a systematic approach to single-cell sequencing, combining massive datasets and complex algorithms in order to discover first-in-class precision therapies that have a transformative impact on the lives of patients with autoimmune diseases and cancer. Celsius was launched in 2018 and is backed by Third Rock Ventures and GV (formerly Google Ventures) and is based in Cambridge, Mass. For more information, please visit www.celsiustx.com.
About Third Rock Ventures
Third Rock Ventures is a leading healthcare venture firm focused on disruptive areas of science and medicine to discover, launch and build companies that make a dramatic difference in people’s lives. By combining our team’s scientific vision, strategic leadership, operational expertise and innovative deal making capabilities, we nurture bold ideas that translate into successful business enterprises. Recognizing that the best way to create value for our investors is to create value for patients, our companies are built on a solid foundation of science, medicine, people and business strategy. For more information, please visit http://www.thirdrockventures.com.