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University-Industry Engagement Advisor

Harvard and National Resilience in $30M, five-year R&D alliance to develop new medicines and new companies

By David Schwartz
Published: October 19th, 2021

Harvard University and National Resilience, Inc., have signed a five-year R&D agreement – with a $30M commitment from Resilience – to develop of complex medicines. Targets will include biologics, vaccines, nucleic acids, and cell and gene therapies, and the plan is to spin that research into new companies.

Under the alliance agreement coordinated by Harvard’s Office of Technology Development (OTD), Resilience will fund faculty-initiated research focused on certain novel therapeutic and biomanufacturing technologies developed in Harvard labs. The partners expect that those with the most commercial promise will be advanced to the market by new companies formed by Resilience expressly for that purpose.

They’re wasting no time on executing that plan. An initial technology platform has already been identified for incubation focused on skeletal muscle disorders, with a newco called Circle Therapeutics formed to commercialize it. Developed in the Harvard professor Lee Rubin, PhD, Professor of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology, the technology enables culturing millions of cells in vitro that behave like skeletal muscle stem cells (satellite cells), retaining their regenerative potential, for use in possible cell therapies. Resilience is now funding the lab’s continuing work on the platform in a project led by staff scientist Feodor Price, PhD.

“For six decades since the discovery of the satellite cell, it has not been possible to expand therapeutic numbers of satellite cells in vitro, until we made real headway on it at Harvard,” said Rubin. “We’re truly excited for the possible therapeutic impact of our innovations.”

“Our mission at Resilience is to make a new generation of complex medicines, such as curative gene therapies, lifesaving vaccines and immune system-boosting cell therapies, more accessible to people in need,” said CEO Rahul Singhvi, ScD. “Current biomanufacturing processes pose significant hurdles to making these medicines quickly, and at scale, which is why we are excited to work with researchers at Harvard to identify and develop the technologies needed to make this future a reality.”

“The Rubin Lab’s platform to expand and maintain in vitro derived satellite cells could lead to transformative cell therapies,” added Vivian Berlin, PhD, who leads Harvard OTD’s Corporate Alliances team. “With prior support from the Blavatnik Biomedical Accelerator, the team has compellingly demonstrated the clinical relevance of this work. Now with Resilience’s focused funding and experience in the development of complex medicines, we hope to set it on a clear path toward benefiting patients.”

To spur similar projects going forward, Resilience and Harvard will jointly issue a call for proposals, with Resilience getting an option to license technologies arising from funded projects.

“This research alliance with Resilience will help support biomedical innovation at Harvard,” said Isaac Kohlberg, Harvard’s Chief Technology Development Officer and Senior Associate Provost. “Collaborating to both advance Harvard science and place arising technologies with dedicated new ventures, we can provide yet another valuable source of support and industry expertise to translational biomedical researchers across Harvard’s schools as they seek to impact human health for the better.”

Source: Harvard Office of Technology Development

Posted under: University-Industry Engagement Week

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