Scott Rocklage Seeks to Conquer Cancer by Targeting Mutant RNA Molecules

In an effort to expand its portfolio to encompass more promising medications, Expansion Therapeutics has raised approximately $55.3 million in Series A financing. Kleiner Perkins, Sanofi Ventures, 5AM Ventures, RA Capital Management and Alexandria Venture Investments participated in financing the venture. Scott Rocklage, Managing Partner at 5AM Ventures, expressed his conviction that Expansion Therapeutics plans to create medications for patients who are left without any viable treatment alternatives. The company’s new investment portfolio includes medicines targeting myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1). Researchers claim that the disorder is primarily responsible for causing muscular dystrophy in adults. Research shows that people with muscular dystrophy have toxic RNA levels in the blood.

Ribonucleic acid (RNA) molecules sometimes become toxic while still remaining within their cells. The toxicity causes DM1 which eventually causes medical issues resulting in negative effects on the heart, respiratory system, muscles, digestive system, hormones and central nervous system. DM1 is transmitted to future generations. DM1 has a progressive, detrimental affect on each succeeding generation. Researchers have failed to discover a cure for people who have been afflicted with DM1.

Expansion Therapeutics focuses on developing medications that target toxic RNA molecules. The company hires researchers who try to find treatments for genetic diseases known as expansion repeat disorders. The genes are defective due to short DNA stretches. The repetition of DNA in the body of a person with DM1 causes RNAs to transform themselves into toxic molecules. Reliable remedies for genetic disorders do not currently exist.

Expansion Therapeutics bases its scientific findings on Matthew D. Disney’s research. Mr. Disney, Ph.D., has a laboratory at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI). According to Scott M. Rocklage, Ph.D., Mr. Disney is the most important researcher on the team. Mr. Rocklage is the chairman of the board of managing partners of 5AM Ventures and chairman of the board of directors of Expansion Therapeutics. He is also the primary investor involved in the research project.

Matthew Disney mentioned that he has been pleased with the team’s efforts during the past 12 years. He said that the team has reached an important plateau. He mentioned that RNA-related diseases may eventually have targeted remedies in the forms of minuscule molecular medications. The company is striving to develop targeted medical treatments for people who urgently need to find cures. Mr. Disney mentioned that his team plans to spend ample time in an attempt to provide people with promising medicines designed to treat the disorders.

Scott Rocklage said that Expansion Therapeutics has a definite plan to transform the concepts into tangible medications. The company is on the cutting edge of finding remedies to treat defective RNA molecules. Beth Seidenberg, M.D., and general partner at Kleiner Perkins, mentioned that she was excited that Mr. Rocklage invested in a business that might make it possible for previously hopeless patients to discover new futures filled with hope.

A Few Words about Scott Rocklage

Scott M. Rocklage received his bachelor of science degree in chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, and a doctorate in chemistry after completing his studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). While attending MIT, Scott Rocklage conducted scientific studies in Richard R. Schrock’s laboratory. Mr. Schrock won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in the year 2005.

Scott Rocklage joined 5AM Ventures in the year 2003. He was initially a venture partner. Mr. Rocklage was eventually promoted to a prestigious position as the managing partner. Dr. Rocklage has more than 30 years of experience as a health care manager and leader. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved of his three United States drug applications for Omniscan™, Teslascan® and Cubicin®. In addition, Scott Rocklage has introduced a wide array of pharmaceutical drugs into various clinical trials.

Scott Rocklage was previously the chairman and chief operating officer (CEO) of Cubist Pharmaceuticals and held a prominent position at Catalytica. In addition, he served as a chairman on the Relypsa (NASDAQ: RLYP) board. Scott Rocklage is currently the chairman of the board of Rennovia, Kinestral and Cidara. Scott Rocklage was a former executive chairman of Ilypsa, a company that was eventually acquired by Amgen. Scott Rocklage has applied for more than 30 U.S. Patents and written more than 100 scientific publications that were reviewed by his peers.

Scott Rocklage spends his days researching new aspects pertaining to life science. He also serves on several boards and participates in managing an investment portfolio. Mr. Rocklage collaborates with other scientists in an attempt to help them mold scientific concepts into tangible pharmaceutical drugs.

In a recent interview, Scott Rocklage mentioned that he has taken an intense interest in treating cancer. Here are a few excerpts from the enlightening words spoken by Scott Rocklage:

Is there One Trend that Ignites your Creativity?

Mr. Rocklage said, “I am excited about having the opportunity to target genotypes as a way to treat various types of cancer. Targeting mutations offers an innovative approach to finding cancer treatments that could save lives. I honestly believe that my company will continue to explore and develop improved therapies in the near future.”

Is there one specific strategy that has helped your business?

“I believe in focusing on what I know. I try to stick to things that I do well rather than concentrate on a dozen projects that are not in my realm of experience. Instead of making an attempt to follow current trends, I remain true to my objectives and workable plans of action.”

Did you ever experience any failures as the founder of your own business?

“Yes, I have definitely experienced failures. However, the majority of my failed attempts were direct results of my mistakes in hiring the wrong managers. I have learned that it is necessary to dismiss team members who do not perform in accordance with the general plan. I do not believe in giving multiple performance reviews. My experience reveals that most top managers are incapable of changing their basis work ethics. Also, I definitely believe in taking risks.”