Cambrian BioPharma is a distributed drug discovery company developing medicines to extend healthy lifespan. It bills itself as a distributed drug discovery company, and it aims to comprehensively treat the diseases of aging in the way that most infectious diseases were treated last century.
Cambrian is organized in a way that its founders hope will combine the best attributes of biotech venture capital, big pharma, and spin-off biotech companies. The goal is to create an organization with the ideas and flexibility of a small biotech company but the institutional power and resources of a large one, spawning multiple disparate programs from the same source of capital.
However, Cambrian is not simply a holding company or an investment firm. Instead, it consults and manages its pipeline companies on a regular basis, maintaining a base R&D team that works with the specialized R&D teams of its individual projects. The company is built with a strong focus on drug discovery, aiming to find undiscovered treatments programmatically. Cambrian advertises itself to investors as being internally diversified between its projects and plans to move funding towards the most promising projects, cutting off anything that is not returning promising results and is not likely to succeed in clinical trials.
Cambrian has a strong focus on the nine hallmarks of aging, and it specifically focuses on damage repair and illness prevention rather than curing the symptoms of diseases. The company groups its approach to dealing with them into three categories: fundamental intracellular problems such as genomic instability, telomere attrition, and the aggregates associated with a loss of proteostasis; larger intracellular issues such as senescence and mitochondrial dysfunction; and tissue problems such as stem cell exhaustion and general tissue deterioriation.
Cambrian also intends to investigate how these various problems interconnect in the body, making connections between disparate issues relating to aging. This is particularly important for the company’s drug discovery efforts, as company COO Juliette Han explains, because it allows Cambrian to predict side effects in advance, especially when the company looks at the deep view multiple times in an iterative process.
Cambrian is founded by Dr. James Peyer of Apollo Ventures. In a press release, he explained that, after three years of running Apollo, he realized that he could create something much larger that is better able to tackle age-related diseases. His experiences in Apollo are why this company does what it does; rather than being simply a biotech by itself, it is a company that creates other biotechnology companies from the ground up. This international company has employees in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia, and Canada.
As of early February 2021, Cambrian has 14 different programs under development and a $600 million market cap. One of its programs, Sensei Biotherapeutics, focuses on head and neck cancers by directly targeting the genomic instability that leads to them along with encouraging the immune system to seek and destroy tumors. Cambrian has directly invested $8 million into Sensei, and investors have contributed $133 million through its IPO.