October 31, 2016
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff
BOSTON – Noted biotech and pharma startup backer Third Rock Ventures LLC has even more fuel to finance new technologies. This morning the company announced it has raised $616 million in an oversubscribed fund that will allow the company to continue its investment strategies.
The new fund, Fund IV, has yet to begin investing in new companies, but that is likely to change soon. The company said it will continue its strategy of “creating innovative healthcare companies to make a meaningful difference in the lives of patients and their families.”
“Our investment philosophy has always been shaped by the ongoing tremendous innovation in science and medicine. We aim to be both the preferred partner to scientific innovators from academia, and the preferred provider of innovative programs in important disease areas to address the bio-pharma industry’s pipeline needs,” Robert Tepper, a partner at Third Rock, said in a statement.
Since Third Rock Ventures, LLC launched in 2007, the VC company has raised $1.9 billion, which includes the new infusion of $616 million. Third Rock has used those funds to launch more than 40 companies. As a result, Third Rock said its companies have delivered four products and one device to the market and advanced more than 40 programs in clinical development. Third Rock has its financial fingers in a number of companies across several targeted therapeutic areas, including oncology, immunology, neurological disorders, cardiovascular disease and rare genetic diseases. Some of the companies Third Rock has invested in or founded, including Editas Medicine (EDIT), which is pioneering gene therapy with CRISPR-Cas9 technology; Sage Therapeutics (SAGE), which targets central nervous system disorders; bluebird bio (BLUE), Zafgen (ZFGN), Decibel Therapeutics, Fulcrum Therapeutics and Eleven Biotherapeutics (EBIO).
Despite its successes, some Third Rock companies have also had their share of troubles, including Zafgen, which had to terminate its obesity drug due to safety issues and Eleven Biotherapeutics, which has seen the failure of two experimental therapies and at one point was reported to be exploring the sale of the company or at least or some of its assets. However, after that report, the company received an infusion of cash from a deal with Roche (RHHBY) that allowed it to acquire Canadian-based cancer drugmaker, Viventia Bio Inc.
“Over the years, we have continued to build a leading investor base that is supportive of our unique model—a hands-on, team-based approach of discovering, launching and building great companies based on bold ideas that meet at the intersection of science, strategy, business and medicine,” Tepper said.
In addition to its investment fundraising, Third Rock also announced some changes. Abbie Celniker, the former president and chief executive officer of Eleven Biotherapeutics, Charles Homcy, who co-founded Portola Pharmaceuticals (PTLAN), Frank Gentile, Stephen Sherwin and Barbara Weber, have all been named partners or venture partners at the firm.