Discovering Biotech Startups: A map for Selling to Quartz Therapeutics


Written by:
David Wilkerson

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 Quartz Therapeutics, exploring the current affairs and future orientation of this emerging California - 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

Quartz is bringing together chemical and biological expertise to develop effective therapies for patients suffering from RAS-driven cancers. Their research team is developing compounds focused on distinct degradation of targets in the MAPK pathway. Specifically, they are targeting key steps in the MAPK pathway with a novel degradation technology and have plans to be in the clinic by the end of 2019 or early 2020.

Business Overview

Quartz Therapeutics does not currently have an operating website for the public, so we had to do some digging of our own until Quartz decides to register for a public-facing website. The business was established in Delaware as a C-Corp on 3/8/2017, with a registered agent address through CT Corporation in Los Angeles, CA. Quartz’s principal place of business, as noted on the business entity search, is registered at 421 Kipling St., Palo Alto, CA 94301, as well as being listed as a resident with the University of California’s QB3 accelerator facility. 

QB3 is the University of California’s accelerator hub for innovation and entrepreneurship specifically for life sciences startups. The institute supports UC researchers and empowers Bay Area entrepreneurs to launch startup companies and partner with the biotech industry. With five incubators, two seed-stage venture capital firms, and a special initiative in medical devices, through the UCSF Rosenman Institute, QB3 helps early biotech startups create high-value jobs and brings over $750 million into the Bay Area each year. Quartz is also a subsidiary spin-out of a cutting-edge pharma company called BridgeBio, who also has over 15 drug programs going after 20+ genetic diseases, including a number of late stage assets that could create substantial value over the next few years. Quartz Therapeutics also received the Servier’s Golden Ticket Award in June 2019 for their continuous development work in targeted therapies for certain types of cancers, with more about the award below.    

Outsourcing History

Quartz Therapeutics doesn’t have a lot of information on their current outsourcing needs, but considering their recent award and scientific backing, they are in a great position to fund a ton of outsourcing work. The company is still early in development but they do have some interesting ongoing research in their early development pipeline, with more on that in the next section. Their prospective pipeline will consist of therapies for treating a specific type of RAS-driven cancer. Any experience with RAS-driven cancer models, preclinical strategies with animal development, and any new technologies surrounding this particular disease would be of tremendous benefit to Quartz at this point in time. 

Specifically, if your team has experience with cancer research involving the MAPK pathway, animal model development targeting cancer, RAS-driven cancer research and bioanalytical services, or even large molecule clinical trial supplies, Quartz Therapeutics, should definitely be on your contact list, and you should be connecting with them for upcoming work in the near future.  

Quartz’s Pipeline and R&D Focus

In June, Servier and MBC BioLabs announced that the 2019 Servier Golden Ticket was awarded to Quartz Therapeutics. The award helped Quartz Therapeutics continue their innovative work developing therapies for RAS oncogene-driven cancers. Mutations that activate RAS are found in 20 percent to 30 percent of all human tumors and inhibition of RAS signaling via degradation of downstream effectors is being targeted for the treatment of cancer. [1] Quartz brings together an innovative team of biochemistry researchers to develop therapies for patients suffering from RAS-driven cancers. The company is targeting key steps in the MAPK pathway by utilizing the body's natural protein disposal pathways to degrade specific proteins that cause diseases. Quartz’s unique advantage is their platform technology is also modular and can be used to target other diseases where traditional drug development approaches have not been entirely successful.

We think business development teams in the realms of large molecule CMOs, research labs with experience in early development work in RAS-driven cancers, preclinical CROs with animal model development for cancerous diseases, and bioanalytical service providers in general should definitely have Quartz Therapeutics on their radar over the next few years. 

Decision Making

  • Dr. Frank McCormick, F.C.S - is a founding member at Quartz Therapeutics. Dr. McCormick received his B.Sc. in biochemistry from the University of Birmingham, and his Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of Cambridge and held postdoctoral fellowships in the U.S. at the State University of New York at Stony Brook and in London at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund. Dr. McCormick is a Fellow of the Royal Society, an institution dedicated to science, since 1996, a member of the National Academy of Sciences since 2014, and has served as President, 2012-2013, for the American Association for Cancer Research.
  • Dr. Robert Henning - is a founding member and director of R&D at Quartz Therapeutics. Dr. Henning received a B.Sc. in biochemistry from UC Davis, and his Ph.D. in Chemistry from Caltech in 2016. He was a cancer research fellow at the National Institutes for Health (NIH), and his postdoctoral research was completed at UC San Francisco in 2017. 
  • Dr. Michael Henderson - has served on the board of directors for Quartz Therapeutics since September 2016, and TheRas, Inc. since September 2016. Prior to Quartz, Dr. Henderson worked as a Senior Associate at McKinsey & Company from January 2015 to April 2016 and prior to that, he co-founded PellePharm, Inc. in August 2011. Dr. Henderson received his B.A. with high honors in global health with a citation in Spanish from Harvard University and his M.D. with a scholarly concentration in health services and policy from Stanford University where he was a member of both the Ignite and Leadership in Health Disparities Programs.

Innovation

With a high-profile award under their belt, substantial research backing, considerable progress in scientific benchwork, and deep technical knowledge from their executives, we believe that Quartz Therapeutics will do very well in their early-stage developments and clinical trial studies. Quartz’s innovative approach to using precision therapeutics in specifically defined disease pathways will surely create some promising new treatments in the future. With their number of potential programs in development using these new technologies, Quartz is going to make some unprecedented discoveries in the cancer field and beyond.

"This is exactly the kind of innovative, emerging science that Servier is looking to foster as part of Servier BioInnovation and our strategic goal to drive oncology innovation," said Christian Schubert, Global Head of External Innovation at Servier Research and Development and Director of Servier BioInnovation. "We look forward to seeing the Quartz team develop therapies for patients suffering from RAS-driven cancers." [2]

Regarding the Golden Ticket Award, the coveted prize supports a startup research program that aligns with Servier's ambitious efforts to deliver meaningful improvements in patient care in today’s world and tomorrow’s future. The Golden Ticket award underwrites the cost of a lab bench for scientists to reside in a QB3 location for one year, allowing a startup company to focus its early efforts on moving the science forward, and not on all of their overhead costs. 

"Quartz Therapeutics has brought together a dynamic team of young entrepreneurs and was founded by seasoned scientists unafraid to tackle challenging targets with our next-generation targeted-protein degradation technology. We look forward to working with Servier on the development of RAS-driven cancer therapies," said Ryan Henning, co-founder and director of R&D at Quartz. [3

Quartz is definitely on track to have some major innovations in the biotech industry, and it’s difficult to say exactly when they will come out of stealth mode, but we’re thinking it should be within the next year, so be sure to keep them on your schedule 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 Quartz 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!


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