Flagship Pioneering Unveils Kintai Therapeutics and Appoints Pharmaceutical Drug Developer Paul-Peter Tak, M.D., Ph.D. as Chief Executive Officer
- Kintai is pioneering precision therapeutics based on enteric signaling networks in the human body
- The company uses a multidisciplinary approach to discover and develop breakthrough therapeutics that harness gut science and the interconnected biology of the gut immune system, the microbiome, and the enteric nervous system
- Just two years since its founding by Flagship Labs, the company has elucidated a new understanding of the multimodal enteric system, translating this insight into 10+ therapeutic programs
Cambridge, MA – April 16, 2019 – Flagship Pioneering, a unique life science innovation enterprise, today unveiled Kintai Therapeutics and named Paul-Peter Tak, M.D., Ph.D., as president, chief executive officer, and member of the board of directors. Kintai is focused on leveraging the body’s diverse signaling networks to pioneer a new class of Precision Enteric Medicine™ therapeutics that restore health and fight disease.
“The gut—which is home to trillions of bacteria, 70 percent of our immune cells, and 500 million neurons—is truly a command center, transmitting constant messages and signals throughout the body that affect our propensity for disease,” said David Berry, M.D., Ph.D., general partner at Flagship Pioneering and co-founder of Kintai Therapeutics. “Kintai is uniquely interpreting and leveraging the interconnectivity of gastrointestinal biology, the microbiota, immune cells, and neurons to enable precision control with proprietary small molecules. I am thrilled that we’ve been able to attract Paul-Peter to lead the organization with his deep experience in, and outstanding track record of, fostering scientific creativity and applying rigorous discipline in transforming scientific advances into successful, innovative therapies for patients.”
Kintai was founded in 2016 by Flagship Labs, the innovation foundry of Flagship Pioneering. Flagship’s team of entrepreneurial scientists asked: What if the gut offered a more impactful means to drive physiology based on the confluence of the enteric nervous system, immune system, and microbiome? The team began investigating the ways in which the gut adversely transforms drugs, and how the same biologies, as well as the nuanced interconnections of a wide variety of systems, could be harnessed as a new way to develop drugs. These early explorations led to fruitful insights and data that inspired a foundational view that the gut could serve as a way to effectively drive systemic therapeutic effects.
Since its founding, Kintai has made substantial discoveries through its mapping capabilities, including the identification of over 44,000 new genes and hundreds of new metabolites that had not been previously known to exist. Based on these research efforts and through its proprietary Precision Enteric Medicine™ (PEM™) discovery platform, Kintai is today unveiling a portfolio of more than ten programs focused on multiple therapeutic areas, including oncology, neurology, and immunology.
“Kintai was especially attractive given my long-standing interest in the microbiome and its privileged relationship with human cells and organs,” said Paul-Peter Tak, M.D., Ph.D., newly appointed president and chief executive officer of Kintai. “I believe Kintai is poised to transform gastrointestinal biology and is particularly well positioned to make major therapeutic advancements in the field by leveraging a prolific and disruptive discovery and development strategy. I am proud of the team, which has already harnessed new insights into more than 10 drug programs.”
Kintai’s PEM™ discovery and therapeutic development platform is being applied to identify and develop orally available small molecules based on underlying biology to selectively target the enteric signaling network. In addition, PEM™ compounds are designed with a biogeographic attribute, targeting the drug precisely to its optimal location to maximize therapeutic activity. The platform relies on a diverse and multidimensional scientific approach involving life science and technology disciplines, namely in chemistry, human biology, immunology, microbiology, and artificial intelligence. The company is building on emerging science in microbiome research, deploying some of the brightest minds in academia and industry and applying cutting edge experimental medicine approaches to expedite development and increase the probability of success.
“Flagship Pioneering is dedicated to originating platform-product companies to create medicines of unprecedented value for patients. We recognize the magnitude of druggable targets that can arise from the enteric signaling network, which have only now become actionable,” added Noubar Afeyan, Ph.D., Flagship Pioneering’s founder and chief executive officer. “Kintai’s approach is unique and multidimensional. We’re pleased to commit significant resources to its continued growth.”
The company’s initial pipeline includes an array of programs across autoimmune, metabolic, neurologic, and cancer indications, including initiatives in ulcerative colitis, chronic kidney disease, NASH, metabolic syndrome, and multiple sclerosis, to name a few.
About Paul-Peter Tak, M.D., Ph.D.
With a career spanning more than 25 years in life science, Dr. Tak was most recently senior vice president and global head of R&D for immuno-inflammation, oncology and infectious disease, as well as chief immunology officer, at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) before he joined Flagship Pioneering as a venture partner in October 2018. He is board certified in internal medicine and rheumatology, was trained as an immunologist, earned a Ph.D., and later became a professor of medicine and chair of the Department of Clinical Immunology and Rheumatology of the Academic Medical Center/University of Amsterdam. In academia he has pioneered preclinical and clinical research on the role of the vagus nerve in chronic inflammation. This work provided a platform from which to explore bioelectronics as a therapeutic approach in autoimmune disease. He has been elected Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences (UK).
Driven by his desire to improve medicine and therapeutic options for patients, Dr. Tak transitioned to industry, co-founding Arthrogen (Amsterdam, the Netherlands) in 2005, where he was chief scientific officer until 2011. He was CEO and board member of Tempero Pharmaceuticals (Cambridge, Mass.) from 2012 until 2015, at which point he facilitated the company’s acquisition by GSK. From 2011 until 2018, Dr. Tak served as senior vice president at GSK. Under his leadership at GSK, the immuno-inflammation unit brought more than ten new mechanisms of action into the clinic and filed BENLYSTA® s.c., which has been approved for the treatment of systemic lupus erythematosus. He also oversaw the creation of a new portfolio of medicines in oncology, with a focus on immuno-oncology, cell and gene therapy, and epigenetics. Dr. Tak was also development leader and co-chair of GSK’s scientific review board. In 2018, he co-founded Sitryx Therapeutics (Oxford, UK) and currently serves on the boards of Omega Therapeutics, Sitryx Therapeutics, and Levicept. He previously served on the boards of ViiV Healthcare and Galvani Bioelectronics.
Founded in 2016 by Flagship Labs, the innovation foundry of Flagship Pioneering, Kintai Therapeutics is uniquely focused on unlocking the power of the enteric signaling network and its signals throughout the body to fight disease and restore the health of patients. The company’s Precision Enteric Medicine™ (PEM™) discovery and therapeutic platform is based on a deep understanding of the interconnected biology of the microbiome, gut immune system, and enteric nervous system. Kintai has pioneered a new frontier in gut science, resulting in a unique understanding of a wealth of new genes, metabolites, and signaling molecules, leveraging these insights to rapidly translate into a highly actionable pipeline. The company’s expertise in chemistry, human biology, experimental medicine, and artificial intelligence represents a biology discovery and therapeutic development engine to rapidly identify and deliver new medicines. Kintai’s multidisciplinary approach has delivered a pipeline of 10+ programs across multiple therapeutic areas, including oncology, neurology, and immunology.
Based in Cambridge, Mass., Kintai believes that its core strengths lie in the hearts and minds of its talented employees who keep patients at the center of everything we do. To learn more, please visit the company’s website at www.kintaitx.com.
About Flagship Pioneering
Flagship Pioneering conceives, creates, resources, and develops first-in-category life sciences companies to transform human health and sustainability. Since its launch in 2000, the firm has applied a unique hypothesis-driven innovation process to originate and foster more than 100 scientific ventures, resulting in over $30 billion in aggregate value. To date, Flagship is backed by more than $3.3 billion of aggregate capital commitments, of which over $1.5 billion has been deployed toward the founding and growth of its pioneering companies alongside more than $10 billion of follow-on investments from other institutions. The current Flagship ecosystem includes Denali Therapeutics (NASDAQ: DNLI), Evelo Biosciences (NASDAQ: EVLO), Indigo Agriculture, Kaleido Biosciences (NASDAQ: KLDO), Moderna (NASDAQ: MRNA), Quanterix Corporation (NASDAQ: QTRX), Rubius Therapeutics (NASDAQ: RUBY), Seres Therapeutics (NASDAQ: MCRB), and Syros Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: SYRS). To learn more about Flagship Pioneering, please visit our website: www.FlagshipPioneering.com.
APCO Worldwide for Flagship
APCO Worldwide for Flagship