Drugs Medical Pharma

Venture capitalists, scientists plan biomedical research unit for new drugs

Vertex Pharmaceuticals, a US-based biotechnology company, announced its mid-stage trial on a non-opioid oral drug for patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy has yielded positive results.

HQ Team

January 13, 2024: High-profile scientists and financiers are pooling resources to launch a biomedical research facility that they claim will offer a new model for studying disease biology and developing new drugs.

Arena BioWorks is built with a mission to redefine disease biology exploration and is headed by eminent figures like Stuart Schreiber, co-founder of the Broad Institute, and Steve Pagliuca, former co-chair of Bain Capital. The institute aims to draw top talent from diverse disciplines, breaking away from the bureaucratic hurdles faced in traditional university settings.

Scientific and financial powerhouse

Arena BioWorks has successfully recruited Keith Joung, a trailblazer in CRISPR gene editing, from Massachusetts General Hospital. Additional field leaders are expected to join the team in the near future, promising a collaborative and interdisciplinary environment.

Based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Arena is backed by the financial firepower of five founding investors who are among the wealthiest people in the U.S., including Pagliuca, Dell Technologies founder and CEO Michael Dell, and philanthropist Elisabeth DeLuca, whose late husband cofounded Subway.

“Arena’s single source of funding frees our scientists from the typical short-term cycles of grant and venture capital funding,” said Schreiber, in a statement. “Our aim is to accelerate progression from deep mechanistic human biology to biotech-enabled drug development.”

Arena BioWorks has introduced s a unique model where, upon identifying promising disease mechanisms, the institute forms companies to advance the research further. These companies, in a distinctive move, will return a portion of their earnings to support Arena’s long-term operational funding, fostering a self-sustaining cycle.

Echoes of Bell Labs

Drawing inspiration from the success of Bell Labs, known for its contributions to technologies like lasers, transistors, and Unix operating systems, Arena BioWorks is not confined to specific therapeutic areas or technologies. With a focus on brain health, oncology, and immunology, the institute is set to explore diverse technologies, including molecular glue, covalent drugs, and gene editing.

Arena BioWorks emerges at a time when biotech venture capital firms are approaching new investments cautiously. Along with backing by financial giants like Michael Dell, Michael Chambers, other investors include Jim Breyer, and Elisabeth DeLuca.  Arena stands ready to navigate challenges and carve a unique path in the evolving landscape of biomedical research and drug development.

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