Dr. Susan Windham-Bannister, President & CEO of the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center, with Dustin Armstrong, VP and Head of Research for 4s3 Bioscience, a Medford company that was awarded an Accelerator loan by the Center’s Board of Directors. Courtesy photo.
Massachusetts Life Sciences Center Approves Accelerator Program Loan for Medford-based 4s3 Bioscience
Center authorizes $600,000 loan to support growth of early-stage life sciences company
The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center (the “Center”), a quasi-public agency tasked with implementing the state’s ten-year, $1 billion Life Sciences Initiative, has announced the awarding of $2.48 million in loans to four early-stage life sciences companies, including 4s3 Bioscience, a biotherapeutics company in Medford, Massachusetts developing platforms for the targeted delivery of therapeutics to skeletal muscle. The Center’s Accelerator Program provides loans of up to $750,000 to early-stage companies engaged in life sciences research and development, commercialization and manufacturing. Four companies were authorized to receive loans out of thirty-nine applications that were submitted to the Center and competitively peer-reviewed. A second round of the Program is scheduled for the Fall of 2010.
The Accelerator Program, the Center’s flagship investment program for companies, supports and “de-risks” early-stage companies by providing loans that will match other sources of capital. By leveraging other sources of capital the Accelerator Program provides support to companies at the most critical stages of their development cycle, enabling them to conduct vital research and proof of concept studies and attract subsequent investment, improving the odds of bringing cutting edge innovation to the marketplace.
Support for the Accelerator Program is augmented by the Center’s Corporate Consortium Program, which attracts private matching funds to the Center’s investment activities. Corporate Consortium members Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) and sanofi aventis (NYSE: SNY) have agreed to contribute $500,000 each over two years. The Center is actively sourcing potential additional co-funders at this time.
Applicants for the Accelerator Program are generally early-stage life sciences companies with a high potential for technology commercialization, rapid growth, and downstream private equity financing. The loans are designed to address the need for capital investment associated with the long life sciences R&D cycle and the high cost of translating research into a commercially viable product.
Applications were subjected to a double-blind, rigorous peer review, followed by an evaluation by the Center’s Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). Applicants were then further screened by the Center’s Investment Sub-Committee of the Board of Directors, through a process that included a live presentation by finalists. Final awards were determined by the Center’s Board of Directors.
4s3 Bioscience has been authorized to receive $600,000 to continue developing a proprietary antibody technology that allows for targeted and active intracellular delivery of therapeutics to skeletal muscle, based on research conducted by Dr. Richard Weisbart. This technology allows for the replacement of deficient proteins via a membrane transporter and is especially efficient in delivering proteins to skeletal muscle. Application of 4s3 technology holds promise for treating the underlying causes of muscular dystrophies, myopathies, motor neuron diseases, diseases of the neuromuscular junction, and various enzyme deficiency disorders.
“By helping early-stage life sciences companies grow we are both creating new jobs and supporting the next generation of medical technologies,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “Our largest life sciences employers were once early-stage companies like these, looking for funding to bring their technologies to market. We look forward to working in partnership with these companies as they put down roots in Massachusetts.”
“We are excited to be adding 4s3 Bioscience, Inc. and three other promising companies to the Center’s investment portfolio,” said Massachusetts Life Sciences Center President and CEO, Dr. Susan Windham-Bannister. “These investments in the Center’s Accelerator portfolio reflect our commitment to early-stage companies that are creating jobs, while working to produce therapies that will improve the human condition and address unmet medical needs.”
“We are extremely grateful for the award from the Accelerator Loan Program. This commitment from the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center provides critical funding for and additional validation of 4s3’s novel approach to developing therapeutics for rare genetic muscle diseases” said Timothy Harris, President and CEO of 4s3 Bioscience. “This loan will greatly enhance 4s3’s ability to accelerate the advancement of therapies for unmet medical needs. 4s3 plans to leverage these funds to increase our internal research capacity and to accelerate the advancement of our therapeutic product candidates.”
“I am very proud of the fact that Medford has a company like 4s3 that is doing this kind of cutting edge research and contributing to potential cures for debilitating diseases,” said Senator Patricia Jehlen (D-Somerville). “I am happy to work with the Governor’s Office and the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center to provide loans to enable 4s3 to grow and to thrive.”
“Fostering private sector growth through this downturn is helping secure our future as a hub for the life sciences industry,” said Representative Sean Garballey (D-Arlington), who also represents a portion of Medford. “The Accelerator Program’s loans are a great investment that will create jobs and support revolutionary research on some of the world’s most pressing issues.”
“Providing these young, cutting-edge companies with the resources to set up and expand here in Medford provides unparalleled business investment and new job opportunities,” said Representative Carl Sciortino (D-Medford). “This funding for start-up companies is a key to maintaining Massachusetts’s status as a world-renowned center for advanced biomedical research.”
About the Massachusetts Life Sciences Center
The Massachusetts Life Sciences Center is a quasi-public agency of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts tasked with implementing the Massachusetts Life Sciences Act, a ten-year, $1 billion initiative that was signed into law in June of 2008. The Center’s mission is to create jobs in the life sciences and support vital scientific research that will improve the human condition. This work includes making financial investments in public and private institutions that are advancing life sciences research, development and commercialization as well as building ties between sectors of the Massachusetts life sciences community. For more information, visit www.masslifesciences.com.
About 4s3 Bioscience, Inc.
4s3 Bioscience, Inc. Is a Medford, Massachusetts biotherapeutics company focused on the targeted delivery of therapeutics to skeletal muscle tissue, promising technology for those afflicted by various muscular diseases. The company was founded in 2007 by Dustin Armstrong and Timothy Harris based on the research of Richard Weisbart, PhD.
About the Accelerator Program
In order to expand life sciences-related employment opportunities, promote health-related innovations and stimulate research and development, manufacturing and commercialization in the life sciences, the Life Sciences Accelerator Program provides loans to companies engaged in life sciences research and development, commercialization and manufacturing in Massachusetts. Target entities are generally early-stage life sciences companies with a high-potential for technology commercialization, rapid growth, and downstream private equity financing. The program is designed to help sustain these companies through a critical stage of development and to leverage additional sources of capital to bring cutting edge innovation to the marketplace.
- Information from Massachusetts Life Sciences Center