How do you succeed not once, but twice in biotech? How do you push a scientific idea forward without any venture capital? And how does one even begin trying to scour the globe for a diamond–in-the-rough cancer drug that has slipped through the cracks?
These questions underlie the three stories Xconomy has lined up for our latest biotech event, “Boston’s Life Science Disruptors,” on Sept. 28 at Pfizer’s outpost on 610 Main St. in Cambridge, MA, during Biotech Week Boston. This event consists of a series of candid fireside-style chats between scientific founders, early investors, and you the audience, about the ups and downs faced by some of the more unusual and compelling biotechs in Boston. This year we’re featuring the founders and key decision-makers at three oncology companies charting distinctive courses: Dragonfly Therapeutics, IFM Therapeutics, and Tesaro (NASDAQ: TSRO).
—Dragonfly is the first startup to come from the labs of MIT cancer research pioneer Tyler Jacks. It’s a cancer immunotherapy startup funded not by venture firms, as is typical in biotech, but an unusual group of family offices, including one associated with the Disney family—a deliberate decision so its founders maintain control, Jacks told Xconomy last year. Even without the VC help, the firm has already made a splash, forming a wide-ranging alliance with Celgene in June.
—IFM, another entrant in the white hot immunotherapy space, just cinched an unusual deal in which much of the startup was acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb for $300 million, yet a portion was spun into a new company. This happened just a year after IFM’s Series A round, and two years after founder Gary Glick struck a deal to sell his former company, Lycera, to Celgene.
—Tesaro is one of the few firms to successfully execute a strategy that has picked up steam over the years: assemble a veteran group of drug hunters, have them find and acquire assets from elsewhere, and successfully develop them. Tesaro, led by two former MGI Pharma executives, Lonnie Moulder and Mary Lynne Hedley, has turned that plan into a cancer drug business now worth over $7 billion, with two marketed treatments and a share price worth more than 10 times its IPO price in 2012.
Tickets are going fast, but you can grab yours here and still get a discount if you register by Thursday. See you later this month at Pfizer.