Biomolecular condensate startup Faze Medicines is shutting down, nearly two years after launching with $81 million in venture financing.
The Cambridge, Mass.-based company first targeted treatments for ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, along with a neuromuscular disorder, before expanding into cancer drug research.
Third Rock Ventures, one of Faze’s early investors, confirmed its shutdown. “While advancements were made in the company's ALS and oncology programs since launch in late 2020, the science did not progress sufficiently to meet our bar for further investment,” Third Rock spokesperson Cynthia Clayton, said in a statement. “When Faze management made the recommendation to wind down the company, we — and the board — supported that decision.”
The closure of the company was first reported by Stat News.
Faze was one of several drug startups launched in the past five years to focus on biomolecular condensates, tiny clusters of molecules found inside cells that help regulate cellular functions. The companies homed in on an emerging field of research with the hypothesis that if those clusters malfunctioned, they could lead to disease.
By breaking apart the droplet-like condensates, which are mixtures of RNA, proteins and other molecules, Faze hoped to develop small molecule drugs that could target specific parts of the clusters, or the pathways that produce them.
Scientists associated with Faze have, with other researchers, published several journal articles about the role those condensates play in the body. But Faze didn’t advance any experimental drugs into clinical testing, nor did it secure any research partnerships with large pharmaceutical firms since launching in December 2020.
Meanwhile, Dewpoint Therapeutics, one of its competitors, signed deals with Pfizer, Bayer and Merck & Co. Other companies in the field include Transition Bio, Nereid Therapeutics and Aquinnah Pharmaceuticals.
Faze was co-founded by a group of scientists from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and initially led by Cary Pfeffer, a partner at Third Rock Ventures, and Rachel Meyers, a former Alnylam executive who served as its chief scientific officer.
The company later brought on Philip Vickers, a former Shire Pharmaceuticals executive, as president and CEO.
At the time of its launch, Pfeffer told BioPharma Dive in an interview that Faze was entering “a new, big area of biology that has a lot of promise, and there’s already a lot of data supporting the direction we’re going in.”
Investors in its $81 million Series A round also included Novartis Venture Fund, Eli Lilly, AbbVie Ventures, Invus, Catalio Capital Management, Casdin Capital and Alexandria Venture Investments.