Oncology startup from Sanger Institute nabs $28M, ex-Novartis SVP as CEO

The Wellcome Sanger Institute’s latest oncology spinout will enter the clinic in about 18 to 24 months with a new CEO at the helm and $28 million in Series A funds.

Called Mosaic Therapeutics, the startup is working on new targeted treatments from the labs of Sanger’s Mathew Garnett and Sanofi board member Emile Voest, who works at the Netherlands Cancer Institute and Oncode Institute. Also on the co-founding team is former Sanger head of technology translation Adrian Ibrahim.

The 25-employee, UK-based biotech has recruited Brian Gladsden, a two-decade Novartis veteran and former SVP, as CEO.

Mosaic is using experimental biology and computational methods to make new cancer drugs.

“Within oncology and having spent a long time in oncology, we know the challenges there,” Gladsden said in an interview. His most recent role at Novartis was running worldwide commercial and portfolio strategy. “You still see that five-year survival rates across all cancer types are still sitting at around 50%-51%, and the clinical failure rate in oncology is around 93% and it’s been very much a needle-in-a-haystack type of approach.”

He called the opportunity at Mosaic “too exciting to pass up,” pointing to the expertise and work of the founding scientists, including Garnett’s work helping identify BRAF as a cancer gene.

“We’re not looking at specific tumor types and saying, ‘Let’s go find a target there,’” Gladsden said. “We’re trying to identify using a very unbiased method looking at large screens and large datasets about where we think that either single target or combinations can have the greatest impact.”

Formed in 2020, the biotech was originally seeded by Innovate UK. The Series A comes from Cambridge Innovation Capital and Syncona Investment Management. The UK life sciences investor last year helped launch Forcefield Therapeutics, brought Applied Genetic Technologies Corporation into its fold and further invested in gene therapy biotech SwanBio.

Mosaic is the latest company to form out of Sanger’s work. The institute, which contributed to the Human Genome Project, has also formed genomic analysis company Congenica, microbiome-focused Microbiotica, Sanofi-acquired Kymab and VHsquared, an inflammatory bowel disease startup that wound down last year.