Alise Reicin (L) and Tim Springer

Har­vard bil­lion­aire Tim Springer has lined up his lat­est biotech launch. And he's re­cruit­ed a star R&D ex­ec to man­age their break­through game plan

Tec­ton­ic Ther­a­peu­tic isn’t your av­er­age biotech start­up sto­ry. For all sorts of rea­sons.

There’s your bil­lion­aire Har­vard sci­en­tist and phil­an­thropist who’s per­son­al­ly bankrolling much of the op­er­a­tion. The CEO is one of the most promi­nent women in­volved in the glob­al drug hunt­ing busi­ness. And they have enough col­lec­tive ca­chet be­tween them to com­mand vir­tu­al­ly as much cash as they might dream of, at a time that biotech dreams are run­ning be­yond the fan­tas­tic.

But this sto­ry isn’t about them right now, so much as it is about a sci­en­tist who’s nev­er quite been cen­ter stage in the flood­lights of biostar­dom. There’s a whole group of promi­nent play­ers, though, who be­lieve that’s about to change. Play­ers per­fect­ly hap­py to gam­ble some sig­nif­i­cant coin to give that hope every chance pos­si­ble of be­com­ing a re­al­i­ty.

An­drew Kruse may not be an im­me­di­ate­ly rec­og­niz­able name to you. But to his Har­vard col­league Tim Springer, he’s a rock star. They co-found­ed the In­sti­tute for Pro­tein In­no­va­tion to­geth­er, a non-prof­it that the in­ter­na­tion­al­ly renowned Springer has been fund­ing with a for­tune earned from a re­mark­able run of suc­cess­ful star­tups, from his first $100 mil­lion out of Mil­len­ni­um to the gush­er of wealth that fol­lowed his de­ci­sion to back Stéphane Ban­cel and the crew at mR­NA pi­o­neer Mod­er­na.

Kruse has spe­cial­ized in work re­volv­ing around GPCRs, or G pro­tein-cou­pled re­cep­tors, that make up about a third of all — while still on­ly scratch­ing the sur­face of po­ten­tial tar­gets. He was a stu­dent of Bri­an Ko­bil­ka at Stan­ford, who won the No­bel Prize in 2012 for his con­tri­bu­tion on the work on GPCRs. And Kruse has pub­lished ex­ten­sive­ly on his lab’s struc­tur­al analy­sis of GPCRs, which Springer be­lieves will open the door to a whole new field of drug R&D that can crack open a slew of cur­rent­ly “un­drug­gable” tar­gets to bi­o­log­ics — cov­er­ing a gamut of both ag­o­nists and an­tag­o­nists.

“We just have un­par­al­leled ex­pe­ri­ence in the bio­chem­istry and bio­physics of GPCRs,” says Springer about this new ven­ture of his. “An­drew Kruse is a re­al star. He went from be­ing a PhD stu­dent at Stan­ford to an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor at Har­vard Med­ical School — he had many pa­pers out of his PhD — and he’s gone on to full pro­fes­sor at Har­vard Med­ical School in 7 years. That is a record at least in mod­ern times. The guy is just amaz­ing. And he’s a nice guy.”

Springer is so con­vinced by the po­ten­tial of Kruse’s re­search that he put up the first $5 mil­lion to seed the com­pa­ny 18 months ago. Ter­ry McGuire — the co-founder at Po­laris who goes back a long way with Springer — chipped in a mil­lion.

Which brings us to the nut of to­day’s news sto­ry.

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