Participant profile: Rubius Therapeutics
Enabling a new class of therapeutics
that will surpass existing approaches
Rubius Therapeutics is developing an innovative new platform, which is enabling a new class of therapeutics that overcome the shortcomings of existing protein and cell-based approaches. The goal is to develop treatments for patients with significant unmet medical needs.
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Creating a new platform that enables the rapid development of allogenic red blood cells harboring biotherapuetic proteins
Rubius is using breakthrough science to develop an entirely new class of therapeutic, Red-Cell Therapeutics™ (RCTs), with the potential to address many areas of human disease. The Rubius Erythrocyte Design™ (RED) platform enables the rapid development of allogeneic red blood cells harboring biotherapeutic proteins in their cytoplasmic or on their surface.
The platform leverages the latest gene modification and cell culture tools to modify erythroid progenitors and differentiate them into enucleated, biotherapeutic red blood cells. Because all red blood cells eject their nuclei, the final gene-free RCTs are safer and more easily controlled than gene and cell therapies. Functionalizations include metabolic enzymes, surface antibodies and binders, combinations of targeting moieties and agonists, and antigens.
RCTs have the potential to treat a wide array of diseases including metabolic conditions, autoimmune disorders, cancer, and infectious diseases. Using its rapid prototyping capability, the company has already generated more than 150 different RCT prototypes and is in the process of validating the most promising candidates for clinical entry.
Where science and discovery meets entrepreneurial innovation
Rubius was co-founded by Avak Kahvejian, Ph.D., Jordi Mata-Fink, Ph.D., Noubar Afeyan, Ph.D., all of Flagship VentureLabs®, the innovation foundry of Flagship. The academic co-founders are Harvey Lodish, Ph.D., and Hidde Ploegh, Ph.D., both of MIT and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research. VentureLabs has been creating breakthrough companies since 2000. It is the first institution dedicated to entrepreneurial innovation, where discovery, invention, and entrepreneuring are performed simultaneously by a world-class team of scientists, innovators, and professional entrepreneurs. VentureLabs innovates, invents, launches, and builds startups through a unique, systematic approach that produces best-in-class companies based on in-house innovations.
Meet the team
Torben Straight Nissen, Ph.D.,
Torben Straight Nissen is President of Rubius Therapeutics and Venture Partner at Flagship Pioneering. He has held leadership positions in both large pharmaceutical and biotech companies and brings to Rubius two decades of experience and passion for translating groundbreaking innovation into therapeutics as well as product development expertise across multiple therapeutic areas.
Dr. Straight Nissen joined Rubius from Pfizer where he headed up Worldwide R&D Strategic Portfolio Management and oversaw Pfizer’s portfolio spanning from discovery up to Phase 3 across multiple therapeutic areas. He holds a Ph.D. in molecular biology and biochemical engineering from the Technical University of Denmark and Carlsberg Laboratories and a Master of Science degree in chemical engineering from the Technical University of Denmark. He is a co-inventor of 22 patents.
Avak Kahvejian, Ph.D.,
Chief Innovation Officer
Avak is a founding member of Rubius Therapeutics, as well as a partner in Flagship’s VentureLabs innovation unit, where he leads a team to invent and launch new companies and platforms in the life sciences sector. He was also a founder of VL27, Inc. a VentureLabs company that served as the basis for Codiak Biosciences, the leading exosome therapeutics company.
A breakthrough therapeutic platform such as Red-Cell Therapeutics™ requires access to a wealth of intellectual resources to make the vision a reality. The Hive provides an excellent medium for accessing Elsevier’s suite of information tools that can help any biotech startup thrive.
Tom Wickham, Ph.D.,
VP of Research & Development at Rubius Therapeutics
Tom Wickham, Ph.D., VP of Research & Development at Rubius Therapeutics, is responsible for the discovery and development of novel therapeutic agents in different therapeutic areas, based on his over twenty years in drug development in immuno-oncology, oncology, and gene therapy that spans preclinical through later stage clinical development.
Dr. Wickham most recently comes from Merrimack Pharmaceuticals where he served as Vice President, R & D and led preclinical through Phase 2 development of a targeted chemotherapy in breast cancer. Prior to Merrimack Dr. Wickham was Senior Director of Preclinical Pharmacology and led efforts at EMD Lexigen (now Merck-Serono) to advance immuno-oncology drugs through preclinical development and into Phase I trials. As Senior Director of Preclinical Sciences at GenVec, Inc. he led the advancement of a targeted gene delivery platform for oncology, cardiovascular, infectious disease, and genetic disease applications.
Dr. Wickham holds a B.S. in chemical/biomedical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University and a Ph.D. in biochemical engineering from Cornell University, and pursued his postdoctoral training at the Scripps Research Institute in the department of immunology.
Senior Vice President of Corporate Development
Nathan has 25 years of strategy, investment, and operational experience in the healthcare field, working to develop the R&D, commercial and investment strategies for many of the world’s largest biopharmaceutical companies.
As the head of corporate development, I’m excited to be able to access a wide range of tools that enable disease and target exploration, strategic prioritization and risk analysis.
Vice President of Manufacturing
Robert is responsible for manufacturing and bioprocess development, based on his background in Gene Therapy and Biological Manufacturing.
As a technologist, I strive to maintain current, state of art information to assist in the continuous improvement of cell therapy manufacturing. Having access to tools provided by The Hive will enable me to accelerate that process.
Qin Yu, Ph.D.,
Qin Yu is responsible for leading the Rubius Platform Development team and therapeutic Development projects.
I am excited about accelerating the journey to bring first-in-class, groundbreaking therapies to patients, powered by the Rubius innovation engine and the information fuel from the Hive.
Tiffany Chen, Ph.D.,
Tiffany was a founding scientist at Rubius Therapeutics and helped build out the company’s platform. She develops the company’s prototyping efforts for therapeutic candidates and platform expansion, and is part of the early discovery team where she leads a group with a focus on autoimmune disease.
As a scientist developing out the therapeutic capabilities of the Red Cell Therapeutics platform, I am excited to utilize the resources provided by the Hive program. Many of the tools will help enable and ease design of our studies.
Sivan Elloul, Ph.D.,
Sivan is responsible for leading Rubius’ oncology program, based on her background and experience in cancer research and in-vivo pharmacology. She has studied cancer progression (including solid tumors and hematological tumors) for more than 10 years.
I am curious to see how the tools provided by the Hive can help us do better science, combined with our unique and very promising technology.
Omid Harandi, Ph.D.,
Omid is a Geneticist with specialty in stem cell biology. Currently, his team is developing novel platforms to generate therapeutic red blood cells from hematopoietic stem cells for wide range of diseases.
As a scientist trying to learn and getting inspired by nature and developing novel therapeutics, the support from the Hive program will be beneficial.
Lenka Hoffman, Ph.D.,
Lenka is a founding scientist at Rubius Therapeutics, where she has been involved in establishing and developing the core platform.
With its wide array of tools and access to information, the Hive has a tremendous ability to accelerate the development of our platform and therapies for patients.
Accelerating Rubius' development with tools and information from The Hive
"The RED platform is an incredible toolbox for design of a new class of circulating therapeutic cells, and holds great promise for translating these new medicines into patients. The technology nexus between protein engineering, gene therapy and cell processing is unique and The Hive provides Rubius enabling with information access and design tools that would otherwise be unavailable." Robert Deans Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer
"With its wide array of tools and access to information, The Hive has a tremendous ability to accelerate the development of our platform and therapies for patients." Lenka Hoffman, Senior Scientist
Blog: Pharma R&D Today
Posted on January 17th, 2017 by Ph.D. Tom Wickham in Pharma R&D
In pursuit of our research efforts at Rubius Therapuetics, our key priorities are to develop our technology platform capability, generate data that broadly supports its application in key therapeutic areas, Continue reading
Our R&D Priorities, Our Challenges, and How The Hive Helps Us Overcome Them »
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