Cytokinetics, Inc. Formed To Leverage Cytoskeleton For Drug Discovery And Bioinformatics
Novel Biotechnology Company unveiled
South San Francisco, CA - December 16, 1998
Leading investigators in the field of cell biology and cytoskeletal pharmacology announced today that they joined forces earlier this year with seasoned life sciences investors to form a unique biotechnology company. Cytokinetics, operating in South San Francisco, has devised an innovative business model to fully exploit the commercial promise of recent discoveries relating to the cytoskeleton, the cell’s organization and transport system integral to all aspects of its function.
“Cytokinetics is a hybrid biotechnology and informatics company which is building integrated programs designed to harness the untapped potential of this elegant cellular framework,” explained James Sabry, M.D., Ph.D., Cytokinetics’ President and CEO. “The company has attracted outstanding scientists from academia and industry to deliver on the promise of this fertile and validated field of biology. Commercializing the fruits of these efforts will create an array of diversified revenue streams for the company and our partners. The ASCB meeting brings together the world’s top cell biologists, and serves as an excellent backdrop to reveal our exciting plans to exploit the wealth of new discoveries relating to the cytoskeleton.”
Important discoveries from the academic laboratories of three luminaries in this field established a powerful scientific platform upon which Cytokinetics was launched. The company is pursuing multiple therapeutic programs focused on the identification of novel pharmaceuticals against cancer, cardiovascular, inflammatory and infectious diseases and is generating a series of databases predictive of many aspects of cellular behavior.
James Spudich, Ph.D., Professor and former Chairman of Biochemistry at Stanford University School of Medicine has aligned with Ron Vale, Ph.D., Professor of Cellular/Molecular Pharmacology and Howard Hughes Investigator at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF), and Larry Goldstein, Ph.D., Professor of Pharmacology and Cellular and Molecular Medicine and Howard Hughes Investigator at University of California at San Diego (UCSD) to form Cytokinetics. Contributions from the company’s founders represent seminal advances in the biochemistry, genetics and biophysics of molecular motor proteins. The company’s twenty employees are making great strides in extending the technologies contributed by the founders.
The fourth founder, James Sabry, M.D., Ph.D., Cytokinetics’ President and CEO and former Assistant Professor at UCSF, brings both clinical and scientific expertise relating to the cytoskeleton to his leadership of the company. Rounding out the senior management team is Robert Blum, Vice President of Business Development who brings many years of licensing and commercial development experience from both large pharmaceutical and small biotechnology companies, most recently at COR Therapeutics, Inc.
The cytoskeleton is a diverse, multicomponent framework upon which the cell interior is ordered. As such it plays a fundamental role in all aspects of cell mechanics including cell division, intracellular transport, cell motility and the establishment and regulation of cell polarity and organization. In many ways, this framework can be considered to be analogous to a highly organized city plan, where cellular activities are regulated in systematized locations connected by highways upon which components are transported by motor cars. However, in the case of cells, the cytoskeletal highways are protein structures called microtubules and microfilaments and the motor cars are enzymes, termed molecular motors, which more recently have been discovered to generate the mechanical forces critical to cellular function.
Tremendous recent progress in cytoskeletal research is evidenced by the large number of presentations relating to this subject at the ASCB Annual Meeting taking place in San Francisco this week. Dr. Spudich, Principal Scientist at Cytokinetics and former President of the ASCB, delivered the Keith R. Porter lecture at the meeting yesterday and presented a retrospective gained from over 30 years of research in cell biology to the audience. Dr. Spudich remarked that complex problems in cell biology require the integration of the varied scientific disciplines of biochemistry, chemistry, physics and molecular and classical genetics and stated, “Cytokinetics will be employing such a multifaceted approach to better understand fundamental cellular processes and is poised to capitalize on findings arising from The Human Genome Project and similar industrial efforts.”
Initial funding for Cytokinetics came earlier this year from a distinguished syndicate of investors comprising the venture capital firms, Mayfield Fund and Sevin Rosen Funds, leaders in life sciences investing as well as individual investors, Roy Vagelos, M.D., former Chairman and CEO of Merck, Inc. and Bob Swanson, Founder, Chairman and former CEO of Genentech, Inc. These investors bring diverse and highly successful experience on the development and exploitation of fundamental technologies that have broad commercial application. Commenting on behalf of the investor team, Mr. Swanson said, “Cytokinetics has an opportunity to capitalize on an exciting and newly understood area of biology and thereby make important contributions to drug discovery. I am pleased to be a part of this high caliber team.”
Cytokinetics is a new biotechnology company that has assembled unrivaled scientific expertise from academia and industry and is unique in its exclusive focus on cytoskeletal pharmacology as an arena for drug discovery. Furthermore, Cytokinetics is developing a powerful suite of informatics technologies designed to assess and predict the physiology of living cells. The integration of informatics and cytoskeletal pharmacology provides the foundation for a novel business model in biotechnology.
James Sabry, President and CEO
or Robert Blum, VP, Business Development
Burns McClellan, Inc.
Michael Sinclair (media)