Somatic genomics company ‘measures genetic changes underlying the evolution of cells in the body to make sense of disease.’
Following two years in stealth, biotech company builder Flagship Pioneering has revealed its latest venture. Quotient Therapeutics, which leverages “somatic genomics” – the study of genetic variations at the cellular level, has been launched with a $50 million investment from Flagship.
Quotient claims to be the first company to systematically study genetic variation and evolution within the human body’s cells and aims to revolutionize the understanding of genetic variation within the trillions of cells in the human body through its somatic genomics platform.
Developed in collaboration with geneticists from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and the University of Texas Southwestern, the platform uses proprietary single molecule genome sequencing technology to study natural selection at the cellular level, spanning phenotyping, isolation, single-cell genotyping, and computation. With this information, Quotient says it can identify prospective targets for the development of therapies across various therapeutic areas, including immune disease, cardiometabolic disease, infectious disease, oncology, neurodegenerative disease, rare disease, and aging itself.
“The assumption that we each have a single genome turns out to be off by a trillion-fold,” said Dr Geoffrey von Maltzahn, CEO of Quotient. “All cells accumulate random genetic changes in their DNA, resulting in trillions of unique genomes in the body. Some genetic changes make a cell resistant or vulnerable to disease, while others can cause disease. We started Quotient to study the natural genetics library inside every tissue, discover gene variants that are beneficial, neutral, or disease-causing, and to harness that knowledge to develop the medicines of tomorrow.”
Academic co-founders of Quotient include prominent figures from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and the University of Texas Southwestern, including Professor Sir Mike Stratton, Inigo Martincorena, Peter Campbell, and Hao Zhu.
“At Quotient, we’re inspired by the maxim that ‘Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution’,” said Dr Jacob Rubens, president of Quotient. “Our Somatic Genomics platform measures genetic changes underlying the evolution of cells in the body to make sense of disease, illuminating the path to a wide range of potentially curative medicines. Already, we’ve created the world’s largest somatic genomes dataset, demonstrated the applicability of our platform to multiple therapeutic areas, and translated our genetic discoveries into drug discoveries.”
Having deployed more than $3.4 billion in capital to date, Flagship adds Quotient to an ecosystem comprising 41 companies, including Moderna, Sana Biotechnology, and Denali Therapeutics.
“One of the defining characteristics of the modern era of genetics has been the systematic comparison of people’s genomes,” said Dr Noubar Afeyan, CEO of Flagship. “Today, we stand at the precipice of a new era, enabled by the comparison of the trillions of genomes inside each one of us. Genetics has already created tremendous advances in human health, and Quotient is pioneering the next big leap forward.”