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News / 11.19.19

Novo Ventures and Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard launch drug discovery “Greenhouse” to drive creation of innovative new therapies

By Broad Communications

Partnership supports groundbreaking science through critical early stages of drug discovery

Novo Ventures and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard announced today the launch of the Novo Broad Greenhouse, a joint initiative to discover and propel transformative new therapies from academic science into the clinic.

To drive the development of the next generation of molecular medicines, the Novo Broad Greenhouse unites three core ingredients: deep basic science expertise from academia, world class drug-discovery capabilities from the Broad Institute’s Center for the Development of Therapeutics (CDoT), and a sustainable funding base and therapeutics development expertise from Novo Holdings.

The Novo Broad Greenhouse seeks to accelerate drug discovery projects led by faculty that are part of the Broad Institute community, including MIT, Harvard, and Harvard-affiliated hospitals.

Novo Holdings, through its US subsidiary, has committed up to $25 million over a five-year period to fund seed-stage drug discovery projects at Broad, spanning a wide range of indications and therapeutic modalities. Seed projects may include efforts to validate new drug targets, to assess how “druggable” certain proteins or genes are, or to develop new assays to assess the potential of drug candidates.

As projects progress beyond the seed phase, additional, separate funding is envisioned to fund the “sprout” phase of continued progress towards a clinical candidate, and ultimately the “bloom” phase — graduation from the Greenhouse towards definitive clinical testing in patients, supported either by a new biotech company or by a strategic partner.

“Novo Holdings’ investment approach and long-term view allow us to play a sustained role across all stages of drug development, from the earliest discoveries through to pivotal clinical testing,” said Thomas Dyrberg, managing partner at Novo Holdings. “We are thrilled to actively engage with the Boston academic research community in partnership with the Broad, and believe this effort can help to catalyze the translation of exciting discoveries into new drug candidates.”

“The pace at which we can now discover the biological mechanisms and root causes of disease is staggering,” said Todd Golub, chief scientific officer of the Broad Institute and a member of the Greenhouse’s Joint Steering Committee. “But in so many cases, these discoveries aren't yet making it past the lab. The Greenhouse gives us a new opportunity to collaborate across boundaries, combining our expertise with our partners’ to transform our knowledge into the therapies that will benefit patients.”

Faculty and professional scientists at CDoT work closely together to translate curiosity-driven academic research into drug discovery projects. In its structure, partnerships, and capabilities, CDoT functions like a pharma or biotech. Most of the center’s leadership comes from industry and has extensive drug discovery experience. CDoT’s pipeline of projects incorporates multiple therapeutic areas including cancer, cardiovascular, psychiatric diseases and immunoregulation. Project stages span the drug discovery process from target validation to lead optimization.

The Novo Broad Greenhouse is one of several early-stage initiatives within Novo Holdings and exemplifies Novo Holdings’ interest to fund breakthrough science into new medicines. Novo Ventures is one of several investment teams employed by Novo affiliates that supports the investment activities of Novo Holdings, one of the world’s largest life science focused investment companies. Novo Ventures aims to facilitate the investment of approximately $500 million annually in private and public life science opportunities in the US, Europe, and Asia.  Given Novo Holdings’ evergreen funding structure, multiple investment strategies and global reach, Novo Holdings is uniquely positioned to invest in and support life science companies from inception through commercialization.