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Warp Drive Bio launches with initial financing of $125 million

Boston venture capital firm Third Rock Ventures announced the launch of a genomic search engine company in strategic partnership with Sanofi SA, the French drug maker that recently bought Genzyme Corp. of Cambridge for $20.1 billion.

The new company --- Warp Drive Bio --- will have $125 million in initial financing; Greylock Partners, a VC firm with offices in Silicon Valley and Cambridge, is also participating alongside Third Rock Ventures and Sanofi in financing the company, Third Rock Ventures said.

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Alexis Borisy, partner at Third Rock Ventures, is the interim chief executive officer of Warp Drive Bio.

In a press release, Third Rock described the new company’s goals.

“Warp Drive Bio is leading the reemergence of natural products in the era of genomics to create breakthrough therapies targeting critical biological pathways, particularly those that are currently considered ‘undruggable,’” the release said. “Built upon the belief that nature is the world’s most powerful medicinal chemist, Warp Drive Bio is deploying a battery of state-of-the-art technologies to access powerful drugs that are now hidden within microbes. Key to the Warp Drive Bio approach is the company’s proprietary ‘genomic search engine’ that enables hidden natural products to be revealed on the basis of their distinctive genomic signature.”

Warp Drive Bio’s founders include Gregory Verdine of Third Rock Ventures and a professor of chemistry at Harvard University; genomics expert George Church, a Harvard Medical School professor of genetics; and James Wells, a professor of pharmaceutical chemistry at the University of California-San Francisco.

The plan is to seek to develop new products using Warp Drive Bio’s proprietary genomic technology and Sanofi’s natural products expertise.

One possibility for Warp Drive Bio is a future acquisition by Sanofi if certain milestones are achieved, Third Rock Ventures said.

Initially, Warp Drive Bio is a fully independent company, which gives its the ability to secure additional future partnerships, Third Rock Ventures said.

Chris Reidy can be reached at reidy@globe.com.
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