Flagship Ventures today announced the merger of its portfolio companies Evelo Biosciences and Epiva Biosciences to create the leading immuno-microbiome company, developing therapeutics for cancer, autoimmune and inflammatory diseases. The new entity will keep the name Evelo Biosciences and operate under the leadership of CEO and President, Simba Gill, Ph.D. Noubar Afeyan, Ph.D., CEO of Flagship Ventures, was named chairman of the combined company.
Evelo and Epiva were both founded by Flagship's VentureLabs innovation foundry in 2014 and followed the lineage of prior VentureLabs-founded microbiome companies Seres Therapeutics (launched in 2012) and Indigo Agriculture (launched in 2013). The Evelo-Epiva merger results in a 42-person company and combines each team's pioneering research findings, product candidates and intellectual property protected by over 50 patents and applications. Flagship has financed the company with about $40 million to date and plans to make additional investments to support its rapid growth.
The combined entity establishes the definitive immuno-microbiome therapeutics platform, building upon both organizations' recognition that the microbiome and immune system interact to form a largely unrecognized and uncharacterised metasystem, the immuno-microbiome. Evelo is at the forefront of deciphering the interactions between the immune system and the microbiome to discover novel therapeutics.
"The immune system functions in the context of its interactions with the microbiome and vice versa. Deciphering these interactions presents significant opportunities to develop new medicines for patients across multiple disease areas, including next wave cancer immunotherapy and treatment for autoimmune and inflammatory diseases," said Dr. Afeyan, Chairman, Evelo Biosciences and CEO of Flagship Ventures. "As the microbiome field begins to turn its attention to diseases beyond gut infections, we see the combination of these two first-mover companies as an important strategic development aimed at creating sufficient critical mass to lead the field."
"I look forward to accelerating and broadening Evelo's development through this strategic combination," said Dr. Gill "With our expanded team working together on the immuno-microbiome, we expect to more rapidly advance multiple new product candidates into the clinic, build partnerships and deliver important treatments to patients who need them."