August 31, 2017
KI faculty startups spent the summer hard at work making their mark on the biotech scene — and for some, their efforts resulted in exciting news. In addition to CEO and Langer Lab alum Armon Sharei's nomination for Xconomy's "Young Innovator" award, SQZ Biotech was recognized as one of the World Economic Forum Technology Pioneers for 2017. Tiba Biotech took home the gold at swissnex Boston's Annual Global Pitch Fest for their rapid vaccine development platform. Lyndra has been chosen as a Hive 2017 Innovator and CEO Amy Schulman (another Xconomy Awards finalist, in the "Newcomer" category) will be taking the TEDMED stage this fall to share its exciting progress. Rubius Therapeutics, with help from Flagship Pioneering, raised one of the largest biotech financing rounds this year and pulled out of stealth mode. Sigilon also won substantial support to move its encapsulation technology for cell therapy toward the clinic. Also on the clinical front, Selecta Biosciences announced data from Phase 2 clinical trials and Verastem from Phase 2 long-term follow-up trials.
CRISPR Therapeutics launched a new research collaboration with another KI startup, Neon Therapeutics (whose personalized cancer vaccines have been generating buzz), and teamed up with Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center to formulate a novel immunotherapy using gene-editing. In other immuno-oncology news, Dragonfly Therapeutics (also an Xconomy Awards finalist) announced a strategic collaboration with Celgene to discover and develop new natural killer cell-based immunotherapies, while Torque's "deep-primed" immune cell therapeutics finished up their preclinical studies just in time for the company's move to a new home in Kendall Square. Finally, Lumicell (whose technology was initially developed with support from the KI's signature Frontier Research Program) announced significant advancements in their tools for image-guided cancer surgery. Between their latest clinical data, financing, honors, and new collaborations, these companies are well poised to make a difference in the lives of patients.