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GEN News Highlights : Jan 10, 2012

Third Rock, Sanofi Launch Drug Discovery Firm, Warp Drive, with $125M

New company will use genomic discovery platform to identify potential drug compounds in microbes.

Third Rock Ventures and Sanofi have launched a new drug discovery firm, Warp Drive Bio, with $125 million in initial funding. The financing includes up to $75 million in equity investment to progress development of the firm’s "genomic search engine", which underpins a suite of technologies designed to identify microbial compounds based on their genomic signature. Greylock Partners is also participating alongside Third Rock and Sanofi in financing Warp Drive.

Headed by Gregory Verdine, Ph.D., Warp Drive was established by Third Rock Ventures, which incubated the business for two years. The firm will operate fully independently, while working in collaboration with Sanofi to combine its own genomics technology with Sanofi’s natural products expertise, while retaining the ability to secure other partnerships in the future. The partnership structure does include the possible future acquisition of Warp Drive by Sanofi if certain milestones are met.

“Prior to Warp Drive Bio, no one had created a comprehensive discovery engine that selectively mines from nature those products with transformative pharmaceutical potential,” Dr. Verdine remarks. “Warp Drive Bio has developed that capability and is using it to discover powerful next-generation drugs that target the central circuitry of human cells in completely new ways."