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17 November 2017

Johns Hopkins targets $65m for therapeutics

The Bluefield Innovations vehicle will back early-stage Johns Hopkins projects over five years with a view to eventually spinning out or licensing promising ideas.

Author: Callum Cyrus, reporter

Johns Hopkins University joined forces with US-based healthcare investment firm Deerfield Management yesterday to launch a $65m commercialisation fund called Bluefield Innovations aimed at the university's therapeutic research.

The vehicle will be funded by Deerfield and will spend its initial $65m budget on early-stage projects over five years. Additional capital may be found for projects that demonstrate likely market potential.

A joint steering committee will identify what projects should receive Bluefield backing, and promising research could eventually be licensed to spinouts or third parties.

The program will offer assistance with preparing basic research, proof-of-concepts, drug target identification and the paperwork for human clinical studies.

Bluefield is an effort to absorb the financial and developmental risks inherent in early-stage therapeutics by combining Johns Hopkins University's scientific discovery capabilities with Deerfield's expertise in drug development and entrepreneurial support.

Deerfield previously led a $45m series B round for Blade Therapeutics, a US-based fibrosis treatment spinout of Johns Hopkins, in October 2017.

Earlier Deerfield funds include the $550m Deerfield Healthcare Innovations Fund, backed by Princeton and Northwestern universities in 2015.

Ronald Daniels, president of Johns Hopkins, said: "For more than 125 years, Johns Hopkins has been at the forefront of research and medical innovation. As we expand this tradition, collaborations with industry will help us more efficiently move ground-breaking technologies to market.

"Our relationship with Deerfield will provide a fully funded and professionally support avenue for Johns Hopkins researchers to deliver on the potential of their promising work." 

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