SAN FRANCISCO — Healthcare venture firm Third Rock Ventures announced the launch of Maze Therapeutics, a company focused on translating genetic insights into new medicines. The company has secured an initial investment commitment of $191 million, led by Third Rock Ventures and ARCH Venture Partners, with participation from GV, Foresite Capital, Casdin Capital, Alexandria Venture Investments and other undisclosed investors.
In recent years, the amount of genetic data has grown exponentially, leading to a better understanding of how certain mutations in genes cause disease. However, it is unclear why some people with mutations expected to cause severe disease display only mild symptoms, or – in extreme cases – are not affected at all. Often this is due to genes elsewhere in their DNA that impact the severity of disease and can provide a natural form of protection. These genes are known as genetic modifiers.
“At Maze, we are focused on expanding our understanding of the natural disease protection provided by genetic modifiers through an integrated approach that combines studying natural human genetic variation across the globe and conducting large-scale experiments of gene perturbations,” said Charles Homcy, M.D., founder and interim chief executive officer of Maze and a partner at Third Rock Ventures. “Through our integrated approach, we believe we will create novel medicines based around those modifiers to treat a number of diseases.”
Maze’s Scientific Founders
Maze has brought together a group of world-renowned scientific founders who are experts in their respective fields.
- Mark Daly, Ph.D., a pioneer in the field of human genetics. Dr. Daly is a co-director of the Program in Medical and Population Genetics at the Broad Institute, founding chief of the Analytic and Translational Genetics Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital, and director of the Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland.
- Stephen Elledge, Ph.D., a leader in the field of genetics. Dr. Elledge is the Gregor Mendel Professor of Genetics and Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital; an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute; and is a recipient of the Lasker Award, Gairdner International Award and The Breakthrough Prize in Life Sciences.
- Aaron Gitler, Ph.D., a neuroscientist and genetics expert whose work has focused on understanding the cellular consequences of protein misfolding to suggest potential strategies for therapeutic intervention. Dr. Gitler is a professor of genetics at Stanford University.
- Sekar Kathiresan, M.D., a renowned physician-scientist and human geneticist who is focused on the genetics of complex diseases. Dr. Kathiresan is director of the Center for Genomic Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital; director of the Cardiovascular Disease Initiative at the Broad Institute; and professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School.
- Jonathan Weissman, Ph.D., widely recognized for building innovative tools to interrogate the organizational principals of biological systems. He is a professor and vice chair of the Department of Cellular & Molecular Pharmacology at the University of California, San Francisco and investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.
“We are at a critical juncture in drug development where we now have a breadth of genetic information that gives us insights into the root causes of disease, as well as powerful tools that allow us to test and exploit these insights,” said Dr. Weissman. “Maze has been established at the perfect time to combine these elements, which we believe will lead to important discoveries and new treatments for patients.”