MassBio® Welcomes Four Life Sciences Startups to Participate in MassCONNECT® Fall Mentorship Cycle

Oct 17, 2018

Entrepreneurs developing innovative solutions for:
Improving lead selection and clinical trial design 

Enabling gene therapy and advancing treatment of autoimmune disease
Treating serious inflammatory and neurological disorders
Developing blood-based diagnostic tests for various neurological conditions

October 17, 2018 (CAMBRIDGE, MA) — MassBio®’s MassCONNECT®, the only mentoring program in Massachusetts that is solely dedicated to serving the needs of early-stage entrepreneurs in the life sciences, yesterday kicked off its third and final cycle of 2018 with a technology showcase. During the event, the four chosen life sciences startups presented their ideas to a room of industry executives and potential mentors for early feedback. Their research represents the incredible innovation spinning out of academia in Massachusetts, with this cycle’s cohort focused on improving lead selection and clinical trial design, enabling gene therapy and advancing treatment of autoimmune disease, treating serious inflammatory and neurological disorders, and developing blood-based diagnostic tests for various neurological conditions

This MassCONNECT cycle is being sponsored by Boehringer Ingelheim, Evaluate and Nutter.

“Boehringer Ingelheim is proud to be a continuing partner with the MassCONNECT program and mentor and support life science entrepreneurs in the thriving Massachusetts community,” said Ioannis Sapountzis, Ph.D., Global Head of Business Development & Licensing for the USA & Specialty Care at Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. “As participants in the innovation ecosystem, we see this as a leading initiative to foster the best and brightest ideas and speed advancements to patients in need.”

“The MassCONNECT mentoring program reflects both the entrepreneurial spirit and established expertise of the Massachusetts life science hub. We’re delighted support this next generation of leaders with commercial insights that can help them bring new innovations to the industry,” said Alex Karle, CEO, Evaluate Ltd.

“Nutter is excited to partner with MassCONNECT for the third time, as the participants demonstrate the cutting-edge technical expertise and incredible talent in Boston’s life sciences and innovation communities,” said Kathy Williams, Ph.D., a partner in Nutter’s Intellectual Property Department and co-chair of the firm’s Life Sciences practice group. “We look forward to mentoring and working with these pioneers in the health care industry.”

Following this week’s showcase, entrepreneurs will be paired with a team of mentors, based on their individual objectives and needs, for eight weeks of hands-on coaching as they seek to develop business plans, launch companies and raise capital. The startups will then present in front of potential investors and partners.

The applicants chosen for the latest round of mentorship are:

Javelin Biotech
Co-founders: Murat Cirit, PhD; Kevin O'Handley, MBA; Emily Geishecker, MS

Javelin Biotech provides an integrative preclinical drug testing platform for the pharmaceutical and biotech industries by merging organ-on-chip (OoC) technologies and computational biology/AI to optimize lead selection and clinical trial design. Human OoC technologies culture human tissues in microphysiological environments enabling the most human relevant in vitro drug tests. The preclinical safety, efficacy, and pharmacokinetics data are translated to predictions of how drugs perform in humans without the gaps and shortcomings of animal models and other current approaches. Javelin Bio is interacting with FDA towards reducing animal studies for drug development and safety regulatory filings, helping to define the path towards using OoC tech and computations in place of animal tests.

Co-founders: Julie Norville, PhD; Elizabeth Wood, PhD; George Church, PhD

Delivering on the promise of synthetic biology, JURA Bio is combining the newest advances in gene editing and therapeutic cell delivery to enable gene therapy and advance the treatment of autoimmune disease. Supported by world-leading clinical teams, the JURA Bio platform promises to meet the challenge of known and emerging autoimmune disorders with transformational therapies that promise to be both curative and definitive. JURA Bio, Inc. is actively developing its leading drug candidate, a novel class of CAR-T therapies against primary progressive multiple sclerosis (PPMS) and systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). These leading therapies are the product of cell engineering, synthetic biology and clinical insight necessary to create a platform that may enable curative CAR-Ts in the fight against autoimmunity.

NeuroCycle Therapeutics
Co-founders: Jed Hubbs, PhD; Matthew Toczko, PhD

NeuroCycle Therapeutics (NCT) discovers and develops therapeutics that act within the central nervous system to treat serious inflammatory and neurological disorders. Our science is based on cutting-edge research on the GABAA receptor and the latest disease-relevant in vivo pharmacology models. NCT will initially develop their lead candidate NCT10004 for moderate to severe atopic dermatitis. In addition, NCT is developing novel mechanisms for treating fibromyalgia, a chronic condition causing widespread muscle pain and fatigue; and Dravet syndrome, a rare and potentially fatal lifelong form of epilepsy that begins in infancy.

Co-founders: Erez Eitan PhD, MBA, Oded Biran L.L.B, and Raphael Nir PhD

NeuroDex Inc. is a diagnostics development company focusing on developing blood-based diagnostic tests for various neurological conditions. NeuroDex’s technology is based on the isolation of brain derived exosomes, nanoparticles which are regularly released into the bloodstream by brain cells. These exosomes can provide a window into the biology of the human brain. Their lead blood test can potentially diagnose Alzheimer’s Disease before the appearance of symptoms.

“We welcome this remarkable group of entrepreneurs into Cycle III and look forward to helping them shape and catalyze their inspiring ideas,” said John Hallinan, Chief Business Officer at MassBio. “We want to recognize the MassCONNECT mentors for offering the immeasurable value of their experience and insights, and our ardent appreciation to Boehringer Ingelheim, Evaluate, and Nutter for their generous sponsorship.”



MassBio’s MassCONNECT program is the only entrepreneur mentorship program in Massachusetts that dives deep into the life sciences. MassCONNECT matches entrepreneurs and founders with seasoned life sciences professionals to catalyze and commercialize innovation. The MassCONNECT process involves a two-month mentorship where industry experts guide entrepreneurs as they seek to develop business plans, launch companies, and raise capital. MassCONNECT mentors evaluate and provide feedback on commercial feasibility; identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats; and team up to furnish industry-specific business advice for innovative ideas in therapeutics, diagnostics, medical devices and health IT. Entrepreneurs gain invaluable advice and coaching on defining value proposition, developing pitches and building professional networks. For more information, or to apply to be a mentor, mentee or MBA project manager, visit

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