CAMBRIDGE, Mass., August 8, 2017 – Rubius Therapeutics, a biotechnology company pioneering the creation of a new class of extraordinarily active, ready-to-use and potentially life-saving cellular therapies, today announced that David Epstein, previously chief executive officer of Novartis Pharmaceuticals, has expanded his role at Rubius to become executive chairman. Epstein was one of the first to identify the potential of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy, and subsequently led efforts at Novartis Pharmaceuticals to leverage the technology. Ultimately, his team’s efforts resulted in a breakthrough product for pediatric/young adult acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and potentially other cancers.
“Following my experience with CAR T-cell therapy, I assessed many technology platforms looking for an elegant way to take cellular therapy to the next level,” said Epstein. “I am excited by the unique potential of the Rubius Red Cell Therapeutics™ (RCT™) platform to address many diseases for which no adequate treatments exist. When compared with most other cell therapy platforms, RCTs have broader application for a wider range of molecular targets. Moreover, RCTs can be produced at scale and stored in advance, allowing physicians to treat larger patient populations with an immediately accessible therapeutic option. I believe Rubius’ pioneering of the next generation of cellular therapy will meaningfully impact patients’ lives.”
Epstein joined Rubius as chairman of the board early in 2017. In June, Rubius successfully completed an oversubscribed private financing of $120 million. The proceeds from the financing will be used to advance the Company’s RCT product portfolio, further build out its team and prepare to enter human clinical trials in 2018.
“I look forward to David’s continued partnership as we work to advance the next generation of cell therapy,” said Torben Straight Nissen, Ph.D., president of Rubius Therapeutics. “With over 25 years of experience in drug development, deal making and commercialization, his expertise is invaluable to the Company.”
Epstein served as chief executive officer and division head of Novartis Pharmaceuticals from 2010 to 2016. In addition, he served as head of Novartis Oncology, building the oncology business from start-up to number two in the world. Epstein has overseen the development, filing and approval of more than 30 novel medicines, including Glivec®, Tasigna®, Gilenya®, Entresto® and Cosentyx®. Epstein is also an executive partner at Flagship Pioneering.
About Red-Cell Therapeutics™
Red-Cell Therapeutics™ are genetically engineered, enucleated red cells that are being developed to provide allogeneic, off-the-shelf therapies to patients across multiple therapeutic areas. RCT advantages over other therapies include immuno-privileged presentation of proteins within or on the red cell, high target avidity and affinity resulting in highly potent and selective therapies, and long circulation half-life. Rubius RCTs exhibit fundamentally unique biology and have been engineered to replace missing enzymes for patients living with a variety of rare diseases, to kill tumors, and upregulate or downregulate the immune system to treat both cancer and autoimmune disorders.
About Rubius Therapeutics
Rubius Therapeutics is developing Red-Cell Therapeutics™ (RCTs™) as a new class of medicines to address a wide array of indications, with leading applications in cancer, rare and autoimmune disease, as well as additional potential in infectious and metabolic diseases. The company was founded and launched in 2014 by Flagship VentureLabs®, the innovation foundry of Flagship Pioneering. Rubius has successfully engineered and manufactured red cells that express therapeutic proteins for use in the treatment of serious diseases. The Company is now demonstrating that these high performing, ready-to-use RCTs have preclinical activity across a spectrum of medical applications. Rubius has generated more than 200 prototypes to date. For more information, please visit www.rubiustx.com.
About Flagship Pioneering
Flagship Pioneering conceives, creates, resources and develops first-in-category life sciences companies. Its institutional innovation foundry, Flagship VentureLabs®, is where Flagship’s team of scientific entrepreneurs systematically evolves enterprising ideas into new fields, or previously undiscovered areas of science into real-world inventions and ventures. Since its launch in 2000, the firm has applied its hypothesis-driven innovation process to originate and foster nearly 100 scientific ventures, resulting in over $20 billion in aggregate value, 500+ issued patents and more than 45 clinical trials for novel therapeutic agents. Since inception, Flagship has capitalized its growing portfolio with over $1 billion coming from $1.75 billion of aggregate investor capital committed across five funds. To learn more about Flagship Pioneering, please visit www.FlagshipPioneering.com.