REDWOOD CITY, Calif. & OSAKA, Japan—Ambys Medicines, a biotechnology company focused on the discovery and development of transformative therapies for people with serious liver disease, and Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited announced today that they have entered into a partnership to support the advancement of the Ambys platform and pipeline.
“We are thrilled that Takeda has joined us at the outset to develop our vision to build a transformative approach to liver diseases. Ambys will undertake an intense and sustained effort to advance fundamental science and technology, while developing multiple programs aimed at diverse liver disease targets,” said Jeffrey Tong, Ph.D., chief executive officer of Ambys Medicines and venture partner with Third Rock Ventures. “We are uniting a broad range of scientific innovators to help lead a new era of discovery and clinical translation for people with severe liver diseases, and we are delighted to join forces with Takeda in this important effort.”
Ambys Medicines is pursuing multiple strategies to develop innovative new medicines for patients suffering from chronic liver diseases, including cell therapy for hepatocyte transplantation, gene therapy for liver regeneration, and drug therapy to replace lost protein function. This is in alignment with Takeda’s strategy in gastroenterology to focus on the considerable unmet need in liver through significant investment in novel chemistry and cell/gene therapy platforms.
“This partnership underscores the exciting potential we see to deliver on the promise of regenerative medicine for people with liver disease,” mentioned Asit Parikh, M.D., Ph.D., Head, Gastroenterology Therapeutic Area Unit at Takeda.
Under the terms of the partnership agreement, Takeda has committed $100 million, including participation in the Series A financing. In return, Takeda receives an option to ex-U.S. commercialization rights for the first four products that reach an investigational new drug (IND) application created under the partnership. If Takeda elects to exercise an option for a product, Takeda will share in 50% of the development costs for any optioned program and will make development and regulatory milestone payments. Ambys retains full U.S. rights.
“Takeda has been an innovator, not only in the way it is looking to develop new medicines, but also in the models in which it works to partner with biotech companies,” noted Charles Homcy, M.D., Ambys board member and partner at Third Rock Ventures.
Ambys Medicines also announced its launch today, with a $60 million Series A financing funded by Third Rock Ventures and Takeda. As part of the launch, Ambys announced the strategic partnership with Takeda, bringing total committed funding at launch to $140 million.
“With the launch of Ambys, we are seizing the opportunity to radically reshape the way in which serious liver diseases are treated,” explained Tong. “Major advances in the fields of gene and cell therapy and gain-of-function drug therapies, coupled with deeper understanding of liver biology, create the potential to develop drug therapies that can now restore or replace natural liver function.”
The Ambys team includes recognized leaders in regenerative medicine, drug discovery, translational medicine and company-building. Company leaders include Tong as interim Chief Executive Officer; Michael Holmes, Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer; Jeffrey Finer, M.D., Ph.D., interim Chief Technology Officer; Glenn Pierce, M.D., Ph.D., interim Chief Medical Officer; and Stanley Hollenbach, Senior Vice President of Pharmacology.
“By assembling a group of world-renowned scientific co-founders and experienced company leadership, Ambys is tapping into leading-edge approaches to develop therapeutics for liver disease by restoring or replacing missing function,” continued Homcy.
Scientific co-founders of Ambys include world-renowned experts in liver disease, cell and gene therapy, and small molecules that can replace protein function: Martin Burke, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Markus Grompe, M.D., the Ray Hickey Professor and Director of the Papé Family Pediatric Research Institute at Oregon Health & Science University, and the Director of the Oregon Stem Cell Center; Juan Carlos Izpisua Belmonte, Ph.D., Professor and Roger Guillemin Chair of the Gene Expression Laboratories at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies; and Holger Willenbring, M.D., Ph.D., Professor of Surgery at the University of California, San Francisco.
“This is a unique confluence in time to bring together multiple regenerative approaches to tackle very serious unmet needs remaining in chronic liver disease today,” said Parikh, also a board member of Ambys. “We are excited to be joining Ambys at the launch of this exciting company.”