Industry Articles| Discovering Biotech Startups
We are moving right along with the new branch of the Sponsor Atlas series, which focuses on young pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies that are in early stages or stealth mode. In the next edition of Sponsor Atlas: Discovering Biotech Startups, we’re looking at Amagma Therapeutics, exploring the current affairs and future orientation of this emerging Boston - based stealth biotech startup. To accomplish this, we will give a business overview of their current operations, summarize their outsourcing needs, map out their development goals and decision-makers, and highlight their current strategies for capturing innovation. If you haven’t already read our other blogs on new biotech startups, be sure to check them out here.
Amagma Therapeutics is an exciting startup biotech company centrally located in Waltham, Massachusetts. Their researchers are dedicated to developing antibody therapeutics against inflammatory diseases which have proven to be intractable by other approaches. A number of these serious illnesses are driven by overactive extracellular proteases which can compromise organ function and fuel inflammation. Small molecule approaches targeting this class of proteins have proven to be challenging due to off target effects. Using their precision-targeted antibody approach, they are developing therapies that combine efficacy and safety. 
Amagma does not have any registered trademarks, but they do have an operating website with some contact information on their management team as well as a few nice graphics. We believe there’s a good chance that a more developed website will be coming soon. Amagma’s principal place of business is located at 100 Beaver Street, Suite 307, Waltham, MA 02453. As noted on the business entity search, Amagma was registered in Delaware as a C-Corp with a filing date on 8/29/2019 and has a registered agent address. Amagma has an estimated revenue of <$1M and an estimate of <10 employees, but we think these numbers are going to increase very soon.
Even though there isn’t much information on their business activities, Amagma is funded by Polaris Partners and founded by two proven serial entrepreneurs, so we believe they are in a good position to outsource some of their downstream research and development work in the near future.
Amagma doesn’t have a lot of information about their current outsourcing needs, but considering their recent venture funding, we think they are in a great position to finance a ton of outsourcing work. Amagma, Inc. has not filed any forms with the SEC apart from the initial company registration, but they do have some private investment backing from Polaris Partners, with whom includes Amy Schulman, J.D as a board member from Polaris on the Amagma team. The company is still early in development but they most likely have a few antibody candidates in efficacy studies as well as having multiple discovery stage projects in the pipeline. We think this would be a great time to contact Amagma Therapeutics if you’re interested in providing outsourcing services related to antibody-based protein development and any research technologies surrounding it.
We think outsourcing partners in the realms of large molecule CMOs, preclinical CROs and bioanalytical CROs that have experience with protein expression, purification, and cell based assays should definitely have Amagma Therapeutics on their radar over the next few years.
- Tillman Gerngross, Ph.D. - President and Co-Founder of Amagma Therapeutics is a Professor of Bioengineering at the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College, and an Adjunct Professor in the departments of Biology and Chemistry at Dartmouth. Gerngross has been an active inventor and to date his work has resulted in the founding of five companies (GlycoFi, Inc., Adimab LLC, Arsanis, Inc., Alector LLC and Avitide, Inc.) and over a dozen U.S. and international patents. Gerngross received a M.S. in Chemical Engineering (1989) and later a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the Technical University of Vienna, Austria. Following his studies in Austria, he became a visiting scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the laboratory of Arnold Demain (1989–91) and later joined the laboratory of Anthony Sinskey and JoAnne Stubbe at MIT as a Postdoctoral Associate from 1991 to 1993. Arguably, Gerngross' most important biotechnological contribution consisted of humanizing the glycosylation machinery in yeast to produce human therapeutic proteins, including antibodies, with fully human carbohydrate structures. Much of this work was conducted at Glycofi, Inc., a Lebanon, New Hampshire biotechnology startup company that was acquired in 2006 by Merck in a record-setting $400 million transaction. His work has been frequently cited in the popular press including The Times (London), CNN, Scientific American, BBC, The Guardian, The Economist, New Scientist, Nature Biotechnology and the Los Angeles Times. 
- Leonard Zon, M.D. - Co-Founder of Amagma Therapeutics is the Grousbeck Professor of Pediatric Medicine at Harvard Medical School, an Investigator with the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Director of the Stem Cell Program at Children's Hospital Boston. He received a B.S. in chemistry and natural sciences from Muhlenberg College and an M.D. from Jefferson Medical College. He subsequently did an internal medicine residency at New England Deaconess Hospital and a fellowship in medical oncology at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. Dr. Zon is President of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, President of the American Society for Clinical Investigation, Head of the external investigators of the Zebrafish Genome Institution and Chairman of the Harvard Stem Cell Institutes Executive Committee. Dr. Zon is internationally recognized for his pioneering research in the new fields of stem cell biology and cancer genetics. His current research focuses on two critical avenues of investigation: identifying the genes that direct stem cells to become cancers or to develop into more specialized blood or organ cells, and developing chemical or genetic suppressors to cure cancers and many other devastating diseases. 
- Amy Schulman, J.D. - Board Member of Amagma Therapeutics is Amy is a managing partner in the New York office of Polaris Partners and focuses on investments in healthcare companies. She currently serves as executive chair of SQZ Biotech, as well as Lyndra Therapeutics, where she was co-founder and the company’s initial CEO. She also represents Polaris as a director of Cyclerion, DewPoint Therapeutics, Kallyope, Quentis, and Volastra. Amy joined Polaris in 2014, at which time she assumed the role of CEO of Arsia Therapeutics, a Polaris-backed company later acquired by Eagle Pharmaceuticals. She also manages the LS Polaris Innovation Fund which was formed in 2017. Prior to joining Polaris, Schulman was the general counsel of Pfizer, president of Pfizer Nutrition, and was instrumental in its sale to Nestle for $11.85 billion in 2012. Soon after, Schulman became the president of Pfizer Consumer Healthcare. Schulman has received numerous awards including Xconomy’s 2017 Newcomer Award, Scientific American’s 2015 Worldview 100 List, Fierce Biotech’s 2014 Top 15 Women in Biotech, and Fortune Magazine’s 2013 50 Most Powerful Women in Business. She is a Senior Lecturer at Harvard Business School and serves on the Board of Directors of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals. She is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Wesleyan University and earned her J.D. from Yale Law School. 
Amagma’s Pipeline and R&D Focus
While Amagma’s overall business goals and funding activities found online are few and far between, we believe their main focus is to further the development of antibody therapeutics against inflammatory disease, specifically with GI disorders, which have historically been proven incurable by other approaches. Amagma’s precision medicine approach to treating inflammatory illnesses with antibody therapeutics will hopefully prove to be more effective and safer than our current science. The research team at Amagma is currently in discovery mode, and most likely developing in vitro and cell based assays, performing mechanism of action studies, and evaluating novel antibodies that modulate disease causing enzymes. Some of their other work would be performing assays in support of pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic, and anti-drug antibody studies, as well as optimizing any developability assays they have to screen for candidates with optimal biochemical and biophysical properties.
Some of the past research from the executive team include yeast-based antibody discovery systems and inflammation drug discovery efforts, research on muscle wasting and even stability studies on high concentration antibody formulations, all of which can give us clues as to what their potential research and development activities could entail. With the development of their new anti-inflammatory focused therapeutics platform, Amagma will have the potential to target and even cure several inflammatory and immune diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis, spondyloarthropathies, juvenile arthritis, psoriasis, psoriatic arthritis, and many others.
Even though there isn't much information about Amagma’s research and development pipeline, some of the ways business teams could initially connect would be from providing services in the following areas: in vitro functional assay and cell based functional and phenotypic assays in support of discovery programs; performing sample analysis from in vivo animal studies or human translational studies; design, management and execution of antibody discovery and optimization campaigns; antibody clone screening and selection efforts; PCR-based cloning, construct design, site-directed mutagenesis, vector engineering, and reformatting of antibodies (Fabs, ScFv, Bispecifics); and generating antibodies from display and hybridoma technologies.
With a substantial amount of investment backing from Polaris Partners, significant progress in scientific benchwork, and a rockstar of an executive team, we believe that Amagma Therapeutics will do very well in their early-stage developments and initial clinical trial studies. Amagma’s innovative approach to targeting inflammatory conditions with antibody-based therapeutics will surely create some promising new treatments in the future. With a few potential candidates currently being researched and developed in their facility, Amagma is going to make some unprecedented discoveries in the area of antibody-based therapeutics for inflammation.
Dr. Tillman Gerngross is a veteran within the antibody therapeutics discovery community, having already created and led multiple companies into the forefront of antibody research, such as Adimab, his antibody drug discovery shop that’s valued at north of half a billion dollars. Adimab has been pumping out novel antibody candidates to clients for years. For Gerngross, who has built and sold companies while constructing a reputation as one of the leading scientists in antibody development, Amagma Therapeutics is just another one of his pathways to help focus on developing therapeutic antibodies specifically for inflammatory and age related diseases.
“The more senior you become and the more you’ve seen, you become more a catalyst of certain events,” Gerngross said in an interview. “By catalyzing or slowing down certain things you start shaping certain organizations or processes that you care about.” 
Now that Gerngross has a stable platform that enables its partners to rapidly expand their biologics pipelines through a broad spectrum of novel technologies and research assets, his team at Amagma will be able to focus their development on a few beneficial and very exciting therapeutics in the near future. While it’s still fairly difficult to determine what Amagma will have to offer during stealth mode, their amount of investment backing is solid, and with the amazing backgrounds of the executive team, we think they are on track to create some major breakthroughs in the industry over the next few years. Be sure to keep Amagma on your contact list and look out for our next edition in this series coming soon.
How can I find new biotech startups?
If you would like a simple solution for keeping an eye on drug sponsor companies, like Amagma Therapeutics, without relying on a database and generic lists of leads each week, we at Zymewire are here to help. Reach out today, and stay tuned for the next installment of the Sponsor Atlas: Discovering new Biotechs. If you enjoy these articles, please feel free to give them a share through the social links below!