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Fate Therapeutics

Fate Therapeutics was cofounded by Boston Children’s Hospital researcher Leonard Zon, MD, and five collaborators in 2007. The biotechnology company uses the fundamental biological mechanisms that guide stem cell fate to develop therapeutic stem cell modulators. Its first compound is a stabilized version of prostaglandin E2 called dmPGE2 (also called FT1050 or ProHema) that, in animal models, helps the cells become established in the bone marrow and induce stem-cell production. 

About our partnership

Fate Therapeutics has an exclusive license from Boston Children's to patent rights related to the use of compounds to stimulate stem cells. The underlying technology was developed by the Zon Laboratory, among others. As part of the license agreement, Zon also transferred to Fate an Investigational New Drug (IND) approval from the Food and Drug Administration for human trials of dmPGE2.

The dmPGE2 compound was discovered in a zebrafish screen of 2,500 chemicals for compounds that could raise the success of hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) transplants using umbilical cord blood. Umbilical cord blood stem cells are an effective transplant source for patients for whom a suitable donor cannot be found; a single umbilical cord rarely contains enough HSCs for a transplant for an adult patient. The current solution – to use two cord blood units per transplant – is relatively risky and expensive. Subsequent preclinical studies suggested that dmPGE2 helps donated stem cells home in on the bone marrow following transplantation.

The compound is a first in many ways:

  • the first small-molecule drug found to induce stem-cell production
  • the first drug discovered using zebrafish to go to clinical trial
  • the first drug discovered through stem cell research to reach patients

Fate secured $12 million in venture capital funding in November 2007, and carried out an initial public offering in 2013. Early investors in the company included ARCH Venture Partners and Polaris Venture Partners.

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