16 Feb 2021
CIC portfolio companies Morphogen-IX and Z Factor acquired by Centessa Pharmaceuticals, a multi-asset R&D company founded by Medicxi and launched with $250 million financing.
Centessa Pharmaceuticals launches with $250 million Series A financing and unveils a new kind of pharmaceutical R&D model
- Merger of 10 Privately Held Biotech Companies with Highly Validated Programs Led by Industry Leading Teams to Operate Under Centessa Umbrella
- Company Founded by Medicxi with Financing Led by General Atlantic, and Co-led by Vida Ventures and Janus Henderson Investors
- Saurabh Saha, M.D., Ph.D., Former Senior Vice President, R&D, and Global Head of Translational Medicine at Bristol Myers Squibb, Appointed as Chief Executive Officer
- Moncef Slaoui, Ph.D., Former Chief Scientific Advisor of Operation Warp Speed, Former Chairman of R&D at GlaxoSmithKline, Partner at Medicxi, Appointed as Chief Scientific Officer, Advisor
Centessa Pharmaceuticals (“Centessa”) launched today as a novel asset-centric pharmaceutical company designed and built to advance a portfolio of highly validated programs. Centessa’s asset-centric R&D model applied at scale has assembled best-in-class or first-in-class assets, each of which is led by specialized teams committed to accelerate development and reshape the traditional drug development process. The company was founded by Medicxi and raised $250 million in an oversubscribed Series A financing led by General Atlantic and co-led by Vida Ventures and Janus Henderson Investors. Additional blue-chip investors participated in the financing, including Boxer Capital, Cormorant Asset Management, T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., Venrock Healthcare Capital Partners, Wellington Management Company, BVF Partners L.P., EcoR1 Capital, Franklin Templeton, Logos Capital, Samsara BioCapital, LifeSci Venture Partners and an undisclosed U.S.-based, healthcare-focused fund.
In conjunction with its launch, Centessa has completed the merger of 10 private biotech companies (“Centessa Subsidiaries”) that will each continue to develop its assets with oversight from the Centessa management team. Each Centessa Subsidiary team is asset-focused, in that it prosecutes a single program or biological pathway, with leadership provided by subject matter experts who are given a high degree of autonomy to advance each program. With a singular focus on advancing exceptional science, combined with proprietary capabilities, including structure-based drug discovery and design, the subsidiary teams enable Centessa to potentially develop and deliver impactful medicines to patients.
“The vision of Centessa is to build a pharmaceutical company with a unique operational framework that aims to reduce some of the key R&D inefficiencies that classical pharmaceutical companies face because of structural constraints,” said Francesco De Rubertis, Ph.D., Co-Founder and Partner at Medicxi and Chairman of the Centessa Pharmaceuticals Board of Directors. “Our operations will be driven by an asset-centric approach, whereby each Centessa Subsidiary is solely focused on the execution of its programs with oversight from the highly experienced Centessa management team. The ambition of applying asset centricity at scale is to be able to deliver life altering medicines to patients with improved efficiency by boosting R&D productivity.”
Centessa brings together 10 companies from Medicxi’s portfolio with 15 high conviction programs led by experienced teams. Each Centessa Subsidiary is led by industry leaders and subject matter experts with deep experience directly related to key biological pathways that underpin the programs being advanced. These entrepreneurs who have catalyzed the creation of subsidiary companies will continue to advance novel science within the Centessa enterprise.
The Centessa Subsidiaries are comprised of ApcinteX, Capella BioScience, Janpix, LockBody, Morphogen-IX, Orexia Therapeutics, Palladio Biosciences, PearlRiver Bio, Pega-One and Z Factor. The current Centessa Pharmaceuticals portfolio consists of four clinical stage programs, including two that are in late-stage clinical development, and more than 10 additional programs spanning diseases with high unmet need across oncology, hematology, immunology, inflammation, neuroscience and rare diseases.
“With this first-of-its-kind model, we are bringing together programs with robust genetic and biological validation under one new pharmaceutical company that provides centralized resources to enable and empower asset-focused teams to advance highly impactful programs for patients,” said Saurabh Saha, M.D., Ph.D., Centessa’s Chief Executive Officer. “This approach encourages an environment where scientific teams are incentivized to maintain an unwavering focus on advancing medicines to key go/no-go inflection points based on data-driven decisions.”
Centessa will have the flexibility to deploy capital by adhering to a “follow-the-data” philosophy and will support each Centessa Subsidiary with centralized capabilities that enable advancement of its respective programs. These include manufacturing, regulatory and operational support to enable and expedite scientific prosecution of programs by subsidiary teams. Each team is uniquely incentivized to expeditiously interrogate key scientific hypotheses.
Moncef Slaoui, Ph.D, Chief Scientific Officer, Advisor of Centessa added, “In creating Centessa, we have strategically assembled our subsidiary portfolio to include programs with strong biological validation, mechanistic diversification, and teams with proprietary capabilities and insights. This high-quality portfolio aims to deliver enhanced diversification, reduced risk and asymmetric upside with a view to withstanding the inherent low probability of success associated with drug development.”
Meet the Team
The Centessa Pharmaceuticals management team consists of biotech and pharmaceutical industry leaders who oversee decisions related to capital allocation, development plans and strategic transactions in partnership with the Centessa Subsidiaries.
Saurabh Saha, M.D., Ph.D., former Senior Vice President, R&D, and Global Head of Translational Medicine at Bristol Myers Squibb, has been appointed as the company’s Chief Executive Officer and a member of the Board of Directors. In addition, Moncef Slaoui, Ph.D., former Chief Scientific Advisor of Operation Warp Speed, former Chairman of R&D at GlaxoSmithKline, and Partner at Medicxi, has been appointed as Chief Scientific Officer, Advisor.
The Centessa Board of Directors includes Francesco De Rubertis, Ph.D., Medicxi, who will serve as the company’s Chairman; Aaron Kantoff, Medicxi; Brett Zbar, M.D., General Atlantic; and Arjun Goyal, M.D., M.Phil., Vida Ventures.
“We believe Centessa represents a unique opportunity in our sector,” said Brett Zbar, M.D., Managing Director and Global Head of Life Sciences at General Atlantic. “The high-quality science and entrepreneurial drive within each of the Centessa Subsidiaries, combined with this deeply experienced leadership team, has the potential to bring important medicines to patients with speed and efficiency.”
“Centessa’s bold vision and unique operating model are supported by compelling clinical programs, strong data and a stellar team,” said Arjun Goyal, M.D., M.Phil., Co-Founder and Managing Director at Vida Ventures. “We believe Centessa’s approach can ultimately lead to impactful medicines that will benefit patients globally.”