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Flagship Pioneering Unveils Inzen Therapeutics


CAMBRIDGE, Mass., Jan. 13, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Flagship Pioneering, a life science platforms company, today announced the unveiling of Inzen Therapeutics. Flagship created Inzen in 2017 to discover and develop a novel class of medicines based on a previously unrecognized area of biology that exerts broad and fundamental influence on cell state, discovered and named Thanokine Biology by Flagship's scientists.  Flagship also announced the appointment of industry veteran Volker Herrmann, M.D., M.B.A. as the company's new Chief Executive Officer and Partner at Flagship Pioneering, succeeding founding CEO Douglas Cole. Dr. Cole is Chairman of Inzen and Managing Partner at Flagship.

Inzen Therapeutics is the result of explorations by the scientist-entrepreneurs of Flagship Labs who asked, "What if the function of a cell depended not only on input from other living cells but also on input from cells as they turnover or die?" Historically, understanding how cells process and respond to information from their environment and other living cells has led to many life-saving medicines.  Inzen is discovering and developing drugs based on the discovery that living cells process and respond to inputs from cells that are dying, either as a normal step in the cycle of cell turnover or abnormally under disease conditions.  This interplay underlies Thanokine Biology and is a rich and untapped source of insights into how to prevent and treat a range of serious diseases. Inzen has built a proprietary product-platform to exploit these insights in order to develop unprecedented therapeutics for cancer, fibrotic disorders, autoimmune disorders, metabolic disorders, and neurodegenerative diseases.

"Intervening in how cells process and respond to inputs in their environment has been one of the most fruitful arenas of drug discovery for decades," says Douglas Cole, M.D., Chairman of Inzen and Managing Partner at Flagship Pioneering, who led the founding team that created the company. "Inzen's insights, pioneered and refined over the last four years, significantly expand our understanding of the nature of these inputs and cells' responses to them, shedding light on a fundamental, but previously overlooked, aspect of biology. Inzen is using its platform to discover and develop transformative treatments for multiple disease categories."

Inzen's founding team, including Flagship Senior Principal and Inzen Chief Operating Officer Jason Park, Ph.D has developed a product-platform that applies advances in mass spectrometry and machine learning, novel probes, unique assays, genetic and chemical biological technologies to characterize Thanokine Biology at scale and create drug candidates.  Inzen has created an expansive proprietary Thanokine Biology database that provides a previously unobtainable view of critical cell responses in health and disease. This approach is generating precise, actionable insights into disease targets and therapeutics.

Inzen's lead programs in oncology are designed to both kill tumor cells and direct Thanokines from the dying tumor to broadly rewire the tumor microenvironment and generate strong immune responses. Inzen is also targeting indications where dysregylated responses to turnover are already known to drive important processes like fibrosis and regeneration, including lung and liver fibrosis.

Volker Herrmann, M.D., MBA, a CEO-Partner at Flagship, succeeds Douglas Cole as Chief Executive Officer of the company. Previously, Chief Operating Officer and President at SQZ Biotechnologies, a cell therapy company, Dr. Herrmann has more than 20 years of experience in management, marketing, sales, business development, and strategy.  During a 17-year career at Pfizer, he held leadership roles for a variety of therapeutic areas, including Global Lead Pain franchise and Head of Global Strategy, Marketing and Commercial Development, for Pfizer's Vaccine Business Unit.

"Every time biological science has discovered a fundamental new way that cells respond to inputs from their environment, for example neurotransmitters, hormones, or cytokines, that insight has translated quickly into a broad range of therapeutic options," says Inzen's CEO Volker Herrmann. "Thanokine Biology is becoming an equally important and fruitful area of investigation. I am delighted to join the exceptional leadership team at Inzen and to help advance its rich and growing pipeline of novel therapeutics."

Dr. Herrmann joins an executive leadership team that also includes Chief Scientific Officer Pete Gough, D.Phil., who has led the company's R&D over the past 18 months. An immunologist by training with over a decade in the field of cell death, he brings to Inzen over 15 years of experience in drug discovery and development, having spent most of his career at GlaxoSmithKline, most recently serving as Head of the HBV Unit. 

"How living cells respond to cell loss is a ubiquitous feature of health and disease," said Noubar Afeyan, Ph.D., founder and CEO of Flagship Pioneering. "The Flagship Labs discovery of the importance of Thanokine Biology to understanding disease has enormous implications. These discoveries represent a new frontier of research in one of the most fundamental aspects of human biology and provide the foundation for a groundbreaking approach to therapeutic development for many serious diseases."

About Inzen Therapeutics
Inzen Therapeutics is discovering and developing a novel class of medicines based on Thanokine Biology, a previously unrecognized area of biology that offers the potential for unprecedented approaches to prevent and treat cancer, fibrotic disorders, immune-inflammatory disorders, metabolic disorders, and degenerative diseases. Thanokine Biology focuses on the new insight that living cells respond in surprising and important ways to inputs from cells that are dying, either as a normal step in the cycle of cell turnover or abnormally under disease conditions. Inzen's Thanokine product platform applies advances in mass spectrometry and machine learning, novel probes, unique assays, genetic and chemical biological technologies to characterize Thanokine Biology at scale and create drug candidates.

Inzen Therapeutics was founded by Flagship Pioneering, a life sciences innovation enterprise that conceives, resources, and develops first-in-category companies to transform human health and sustainability. To learn more, please visit the company's website at

About Flagship Pioneering
Flagship Pioneering conceives, creates, resources, and develops first-in-category life science platform companies to transform human health and sustainability. Since its launch in 2000, the firm has, through its Flagship Labs unit, applied its unique hypothesis-driven innovation process to originate and foster more than 100 scientific ventures, resulting in over $50 billion in aggregate value. To date, Flagship has deployed over $2.2 billion in capital toward the founding and growth of its pioneering companies alongside more than $18 billion of follow-on investments from other institutions. The current Flagship ecosystem comprises 41 transformative companies, including Axcella Health (NASDAQ: AXLA), Denali Therapeutics (NASDAQ: DNLI), Evelo Biosciences (NASDAQ: EVLO), Foghorn Therapeutics (NASDAQ: FHTX), Indigo Ag, Kaleido Biosciences (NASDAQ: KLDO), Moderna (NASDAQ: MRNA), Rubius Therapeutics (NASDAQ: RUBY), Sana Biotechnology, Seres Therapeutics (NASDAQ: MCRB), and Sigilon Therapeutics (NASDAQ: SGTX).

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SOURCE Flagship Pioneering

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