Acceleron Pharma

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Acceleron Pharma, Inc.
Industry Biotechnology
Founded 2003 (2003)
Headquarters Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States
Key people
Footnotes / references
Key People[1][2]

Acceleron Pharma, Inc. is a public American "clinical stage biopharmaceutical company" based in Boston, Massachusetts with a broad focus on developing medicines that regulate the transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) superfamily of proteins, which play fundamental roles in the growth and repair of cells and tissues such as red blood cells, muscle, bone, and blood vessels.


Acceleron has four drugs in clinical trials, and one in preclinical development.[3]


The company was formed in June 2003 in Cambridge, Massachusetts as a Delaware corporation; the original name was Phoenix Pharma.[9][10][11]

The founders were scientists Jasbir Seehra, Tom Maniatis, Mark Ptashne, Wylie Vale, and scientific advisor Joan Massague, and business people and investors John Knopf and Christoph Westphal of Polaris Venture Partners, who served as founding CEO.[12][13] The company was founded to discover and develop drugs based on the scientific discoveries of the scientific founders in the field of growth factors and transforming growth factors in the fields of metabolic disorders like obesity, diabetes, osteoporosis, and muscle-wasting conditions.[9][10]

The company began with a seed round from Polaris of $250,000 and then had a Series A venture capital investment of $25 million that it used to open its first laboratory in December 2003.[9]

Glenn Batchelder was appointed president and CEO in June 2004.[14]

It started its first clinical trial in June 2006; the product was ACE-011 (which eventually was named "sotatercept"),[5] a protein therapeutic that was an activin type 2 receptor antagonist intended to treat bone loss.[15] ACE-011 was a chimeric protein, created by fusing the binding portion of the activin type 2 receptor to part of an antibody; the resulting protein binds to activin and prevents it from acting.[16]

A muscular Belgian Blue cow

Knopf took over as CEO in 2007.[11] He became known for showing pictures of a Belgian Blue cow to potential inventors, as a way of illustrating the company's products' potential to develop muscle.[17]

In 2008 Acceleron and Celgene started a partnership to jointly develop and market ACE-011 in which Celgene paid Acceleron $50 million up front and bought $5 million of Acceleron stock, and agreed to buy $7 million more in stock if Acceleron went public, and agreed to pay up to $510 million in milestones.[18][19] In a separate deal done at the same time, Celgene acquired an option to license three products in Acceleron's pipeline directed to cancer and cancer-related bone loss.[19]

In 2011 Acceleron extended its their partnership with Celgene to include ACE-536, a development candidate for anemia; Celgene paid $25 million upfront, with potential downstream payments of $217 million in milestones and royalties over 10%.[20]

The company held its initial public offering in September 2013.[21][11] At that time, the company had three protein therapeutic candidates being studied in 12 Phase 2 clinical trials, including sotatercept and luspatercept (ACE-536)[4] which promoted red blood cell production and were being tested as potential treatments for anemia in people with thalassemia and myelodysplastic syndromes (MDS); its other candidate was dalantercept (ACE-041),[6] an angiogenesis inhibitor as a potential cancer drug.[11]

In September 2016 Knopf retired and the company hired Habib Dable as CEO; at that time the company's lead product luspatercept was in Phase III testing for MDS and beta-thalassemia.[22]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "What Are Some Of The Most Interesting Insights Gained From Serving On A Corporate Board That Have Made You A Better Leader?". Life Science Leader. VertMarkets. September 8, 2017. Retrieved September 28, 2017. Francois is chairman of the board at Acceleron Pharma. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b "Luspatercept". AdisInsight. Retrieved 15 February 2017. 
  5. ^ a b "Sotatercept". AdisInsight. Retrieved 15 February 2017. 
  6. ^ a b "Dalantercept". AdisInsight. Retrieved 15 February 2017. 
  7. ^ "ACE 083". AdisInsight. Retrieved 15 February 2017. 
  8. ^ "ACE-2494 - Product Profile". BioCentury. Retrieved 15 February 2017. 
  9. ^ a b c Cooke, Philip, ed. (2007). "Local clusters and global networks". Regional Knowledge Economies (Google eBook). New horizons in regional science. United Kingdom: Edward Elgar Publishing. p. 79. ISBN 9781847206930. 
  10. ^ a b McLellan, Dennis (January 18, 2012). "Wylie W. Vale Jr. dies at 70; researcher helped discover stress hormone". Los Angeles Times. open access publication – free to read
  11. ^ a b c d "Acceleron S-1". Acceleron via SEC Edgar. August 7, 2013. 
  12. ^ "Acceleron Pharma, Developing Drugs to Treat Musculoskeletal and Metabolic Disorders, Secures $25 Million in Series A Funding (NASDAQ:XLRN)". February 13, 2004. 
  13. ^ "Press Release: Acceleron Pharma Announces Departure of Jasbir Seehra, Ph.D. Chief Scientific Officer". Acceleron via FierceBiotech. November 24, 2010. 
  14. ^ "Press Release: Acceleron Pharma Appoints Glenn Batchelder as CEO and Adds Richard F. Pops to Board of Directors". Acceleron via Businesswire. June 14, 2004. 
  15. ^ Flanagan, Michael (July 17, 2006). "Acceleron: Value in the wallflower". Biocentury. 
  16. ^ Carroll, John (November 1, 2007). "Emerging Drug Developer: Acceleron". FierceBiotech. 
  17. ^ Heuser, Stephen (July 16, 2007). "Super-buff cattle may hold key to treating muscular diseases". Boston Globe. 
  18. ^ "Celgene commits $1.9B to Acceleron". FierceBiotech. February 20, 2008. 
  19. ^ a b "Acceleron's Celgene deal worth almost $2B". Boston Business Journal. February 20, 2008. 
  20. ^ Weintraub, Arlene (3 August 2011). "Acceleron Gets $25 Million in Partnership Deal With Celgene". Xconomy. 
  21. ^ Huggett, Brady (December 2013). "Burning Bright". Nature Biotechnology. 31 (12). pp. 1068–71. open access publication – free to read
  22. ^ Lawrence, Stacy (September 28, 2016). "Bayer commercial vet heads to Acceleron as it preps for PhIII Celgene data". FierceBiotech.