CF Foundation Invests $20M to Accelerate CF Programs in Partnership With Longwood Fund

Inês Martins, PhD avatar

by Inês Martins, PhD |

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CF Foundation incubator

The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has committed $20 million to support the development of innovative therapeutics and early-stage companies focusing on cystic fibrosis (CF).

In collaboration with venture capital firm Longwood Fund, the funding is part of the foundation’s Path to a Cure, a $500 million initiative launched in October to promote the development of new treatments tackling the underlying causes of CF, with the final goal of finding a cure for the disease.

“The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation has a legacy of making bold commitments, including early stage funding to develop breakthrough therapies for people with cystic fibrosis and to drive progress toward a cure,” Michael P. Boyle, MD, president and CEO of the foundation, said in a press release.

“This collaboration marks an exciting evolution in our long-standing approach to venture philanthropy and will amplify our efforts to draw the best scientific minds and technologies into CF and accelerate our Path to a Cure,” he added.

Longwood Fund is a firm that creates and invests in novel healthcare companies developing innovative technologies and treatments. To date, partners at Longwood have co-founded 18 companies focusing on cancer, inflammation, central nervous system diseases, and lung infections, among others. More than 20 therapies from these companies are currently on the market.

The foundation’s investment will be used as a CF-focused incubator, accelerating the development of CF treatments and tools in certain Longwood Fund companies. The foundation will also be able to provide seed funding in newly formed companies, and to continue to support these companies in additional fundraising rounds with other investors.

The incubator fund will be managed by an advisory committee. William Skach, MD, chief scientific officer of the CF Foundation and one of the world’s leading experts in CF and in protein folding, will co-lead the committee along with Christoph Westphal, MD, PhD, co-founder and general partner of Longwood Fund.

Since its inception, in 1955, the CF Foundation has made its mission to improve the lives of people with CF around the globe. To date, the foundation’s investments have led to more than 10 approved CF therapies, including some that address the underlying cause of the disease — a faulty CFTR protein.

According to the foundation, however, about 7% of patients will not benefit from available CF therapies as they carry rare CFTR mutations that are not yet addressed by current treatment options. This is where Path to a Cure comes in, with its goal to find a treatment for all patients.

The project is currently centered on three approaches to tackle the underlying causes of CF: restoring the levels of CFTR protein when none or few exist; repairing the faulty CFTR protein; and fixing or replacing the mutated CFTR gene with a functional one.

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