The previous head of R&D and chief scientific officer at Gilead Sciences, Norbert Bischofberger has surfaced as the new CEO of startup Kronos Bio.

The company is focused on developing first-in-class therapies that modulate historically recalcitrant cancer targets and launched yesterday with $18 million in seed financing, writes BioSpace. At present, Kronos is backed by a number of luminaries in the biotech industry, including Kite Pharma founder, Arie Belldegrun and Gilead Sciences’ chairman, John Martin. Other investors include Omega Funds, BellCo Capital, and Vida Ventures. 

Using technology developed by its scientific founder Angela Koehler of the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the company uses chemical modulators of transcription factors as part of a small molecule discovery. Its approach is “ideally suited for rapid discovery of unique ligands that can be utilised in the generation of novel modulators or degraders of challenging targets such as transcription factors.”

Bischofberger added, “At its core, it focuses on solutions, not limitations. It is some of the most exciting technology I’ve come across and it opens a new door for applied chemistry to solve some of the greatest challenges we face in the industry today. When I started at Gilead, we had approximately 25 employees. I am excited to apply the wisdom and experience I’ve gained and return to my roots in early-stage biotechnology.”

The startup launches with two preclinical programs built upon hits identified from the small molecule microarrays platform, targeting MYC and the Androgen Receptor (AR). The chairman of Gilead believes that Kronos’ technology creates an opportunity to challenge older notions that some cancer targets cannot or should not be pursued by researchers. 

He concluded that Bischofberger is “ideally positioned to shepherd this exciting technology into the next stage of development.”

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