We have started a new biotech company called Treeline Biosciences. The name is meant to connote the outer edge of scientific possibility, where conditions are challenging but the metaphorical trees still grow.
The company will prioritize molecular targets in oncology that are validated but difficult to drug. If successful, we believe that our approaches could apply to other therapeutic areas as well.
Some proteins, such as kinases and other enzymes, have obvious footholds for pharmacologic inhibition, while others conceal the mechanics of how they mediate their biologic effects. Inventing small molecules that successfully alter the function of these next-generation targets requires a drug discovery plan that is scientifically and operationally complex.
Our efforts will incorporate both established and emerging technologies, across disciplines, including biology (big data genetics, CRISPR, cell biology), chemistry (covalent modifiers, molecular glues, degraders, allosteric approaches), structural biology (Cryo-EM, NMR, X-ray crystallography) and computation (in silico docking, molecular dynamics, machine learning/AI). Many components of this toolbox did not exist even 5 years ago, and our industry is only beginning to integrate these capabilities into the routine drug discovery cascade.
However, we believe that human behavior, more than technology, will be critical to success. A startup offers certain advantages: an organizational blank page, programmatic focus and survivalist urgency. Culturally, we are committed to a “company of equals” model. The various scientific disciplines named above should interact with the others on equal footing; titles and reporting hierarchies should not drive the workflow or scientific decision making.
We are very fortunate to partner with a group of leading life sciences investors who share our vision. We recently closed a tranched Series A financing led by ARCH Venture Partners, GV and OrbiMed. Other investors include Access Industries, Ajax Health/Zeus, Casdin Capital, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., and Aisling Capital. The financing was designed to provide the company with significant operating runway across many programs. Our lab operations will be based in Watertown, MA and San Diego, CA and there will be a corporate presence in Stamford, CT.
There is a ton of work to do, both in building a team and launching the science. Please forgive us in advance for keeping a low profile. We’ll report back from the tree line once we’ve marked some new trails.
Josh Bilenker, M.D. and Jeff Engelman M.D., Ph.D.Close