BETHESDA, Md. -- Today the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation announced a collaboration with Longwood Fund, a biotech-focused venture capital firm, to accelerate innovative therapies for cystic fibrosis. Together, Longwood and the CF Foundation are dedicating resources to advance projects with transformative potential and incentivize early stage companies to prioritize CF drug discovery and development. The Foundation has committed $20 million to the collaboration as part of its Path to a Cure.
“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,” said Michael P. Boyle, MD, President and CEO, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. “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.”
Under the agreement, the Foundation has committed $20 million to a CF-focused incubator to accelerate development of CF programs in select Longwood Fund companies. Through the incubator, the Foundation will have the opportunity to provide seed-stage funding during a new company's formation within Longwood Fund's general fund, as well as continue support for those companies in future fundraising rounds with other investors. The Foundation is also a limited partner in Longwood Fund V, a diversified early stage biotech venture capital fund.
The incubator fund will be governed by an advisory committee co-led by William Skach, MD, Chief Scientific Officer of the CF Foundation; and Christoph Westphal, MD, PhD, Co-Founder and General Partner of Longwood Fund. Dr. Skach is one of the world's leading scientific experts in cystic fibrosis, and a specialist in protein folding. Dr. Westphal has been the co-founder, CEO, and lead investor of six biotechnology companies that have completed initial public offerings.
The relationship combines Longwood's track record of establishing successful companies around innovative technologies and the Foundation's extensive research infrastructure and unparalleled expertise in CF biology. Collectively, the Partners at Longwood Fund, which include General Partners Christoph Westphal, Rich Aldrich, and David Steinberg, have co-founded 18 companies, with nearly two dozen additional early-stage company investments. These companies have over 20 launched or marketed drugs and therapies, as well as over two dozen clinical stage assets, all focused on helping patients in need.
A legacy of innovation
The CF Foundation is widely credited with pioneering the use of venture philanthropy in drug development. Its research funding model has helped de-risk and spur the development of new technologies in CF, and has resulted in more than 10 approved therapies -- including new medicines that treat the underlying cause of CF for many people with the disease.
This progress has added decades of life and new hope for people with CF, but critical work remains to ensure that every person with the disease has an effective therapy to address their underlying mutations. Approximately 7 percent of people with CF have mutations that will not respond to current treatments for the underlying cause of the disease. In 2019, the Foundation introduced its Path to a Cure, an ambitious research agenda and $500 million challenge to accelerate treatments for individuals who are still waiting for a breakthrough and cure CF for all people living with the disease.
The agreement with Longwood Fund builds on the Foundation's highly successful approach to collaborative drug discovery and development and positions the Foundation to take advantage of emerging science with the potential to benefit individuals with CF who are most in need of new therapeutic options.
About the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is the world's leader in the search for a cure for cystic fibrosis. The Foundation funds more CF research than any other organization, and nearly every CF drug available today was made possible because of Foundation support. Based in Bethesda, Md., the Foundation also supports and accredits a national care center network that has been recognized by the National Institutes of Health as a model of care for a chronic disease. The CF Foundation is a donor-supported nonprofit organization. For more information, visit cff.org.