What can a biotech entrepreneur and a top scientist come up with on a couple of shared flights? Well...
Just weeks before the pandemic hit the states, Gary Glick and Keith Flaherty had a chance to spend 12 hours together, talking craft and trade on board shared flights as they headed to and from a board meeting together.
It may have been the most fruitful 12 hours of Glick’s productive life. They certainly found plenty to talk about.
Glick, a well known biotech entrepreneur and inflammatory specialist, had bumped up to executive chair at IFM Therapeutics just weeks before, after running through a slate of sizable deals with some major pharma players like Novartis.
Keith Flaherty is one of the leading oncology scientists in the Boston area, which is saying a lot. A Harvard med professor and director of clinical research at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center, he co-founded Loxo, which Eli Lilly bought out for $8 billion.
Together, they’ve hatched a new biotech in Boston with a wicked name — Scorpion — and plans to make waves in the cancer field. And Atlas — which was well rewarded by Glick’s run at IFM — is stepping up to help lead a $108 million mega launch round to get them on their way.
Now, about that name…
“We’re putting the sting to cancer, so to speak,” Glick tells me. He adds: “We have a pipeline. We have a number of programs that we’re looking on that we’re very excited about.”
The mission statement is big and bold:
[That new money] will be used to advance Precision Oncology 2.0., the next wave in precision medicine, with the goal of delivering best- and first-in-class small molecule drugs that are safe and well-tolerated and that can provide deeper, more durable responses to many more people with cancer.
But details are in short supply. Like a lot of startups, even with money in the bank, there’s no upside in being too specific too early. Not with this competitive landscape.
Aside from Flaherty, Glick has surrounded himself with several top players, including:
Gaddy Getz: Director of the Cancer Genome Computational Analysis Group at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. He directs bioinformatics research and holds an endowed chair at the Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center.
Liron Bar-Peled: An assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Cancer Center at Massachusetts General Hospital. His lab has made key contributions to understanding how cells sense and respond to oxidative stress and developing small molecule inhibitors against difficult-to-drug cancer drivers.
And that all helped loop in the money people. Jean-François Formela at Atlas is back for Glick, chipping in new money. Arjun Goyal, co-founder and managing director at Vida Ventures, is on board as a co-lead. Vida has plenty of oncology specialists in the mix, including Arie Belldegrun. They joined up with Omega.
“Scorpion’s delivery of Precision Oncology 2.0 is smart and systematic. Even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company has assembled a renowned team, built a cutting edge discovery engine, and established a robust preclinical pipeline,” said Paulina Hill at Omega Funds.
Abingworth and Partners HealthCare Innovation also contributed to the round.
We’ll find out more about what Glick, Flaherty & Co. have in mind for cancer. Right now, the scorpion is keeping its stinger under wraps. But with $100 million to play with, the game plan has to be quite detailed.