The Tokyo-based pharmaceutical company Eisai lent its support for research and development (R&D) in personalized medicine this week, with a pledge up to $200 million in research funding to H3 Biomedicine, a new start-up firm. Although pharmaceutical companies’ foray into personalized medicine is not new, what is new is a more collaborative business model that Eisai has put together with an emerging pharmaceutical company.
H3 Biomedicines is based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and launched its R&D operations this week with a focus on personalized cancer treatments. In addition to pledging an initial $200 million, Eisai will provide additional support for the clinical support of H3 Biomedicine’s drug programs and access to Eisai’s drug-development capabilities. H3 Biosciences’ expertise is focused on two areas: understanding cancer genomes and coupling that knowledge with advances in small-molecule science to serve as the foundation for developing more targeted and effective cancer treatments.
H3 Biomedicine’s scientific founders are researchers Stuart L. Schreiber, PhD, and Todd R. Golub, MD, who will serve as academic advisors to the company and who are both founding members of the Broad Institute of Harvard University and the Massachusetts of Technology. In addition to his role at the Broad Institute, Schreiber serves as the Morris Loeb Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology at Harvard University and as an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Golub is a researcher in the genomic characterization of cancer. His work focuses on using the human genome to understand the biological and clinical challenges facing cancer medicine, and he has pioneered the use of genomic approaches to cancer biology and cancer drug discovery. In addition to his role at the Broad Institute, Golub is the Charles A. Dana investigator at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, professor of pediatrics at Harvard Medical School, and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. Kentaro Yoshimatsu, PhD, who serves as chief scientific officer of Eisai Product Creation Systems, will take on the additional role of president of H3 Biomedicine.
Pharmaceutical companies’ interest in personalized medicine is now well established, but Eisai is targeting a different approach with H3 Biomedicines by developing a deeper collaboration by providing access to a start-up company of the resources and capabilities, including a common management member, from an established pharmaceutical company. The hope is that this business model will allow H3 Biosciences to take a longer-term approach to drug discovery, a luxury not typically afforded to emerging pharmaceutical companies that are in continual need of financing sources to fund operations.
As we wait to see what drugs may emerge from this collaboration, it will be interesting to see whether innovation, not only in the scientific pursuit of more targeted molecules will be effective, but if a business model of shared resources and deeper collaboration also will be successful.