CRISPR Gene Editing Startup Raises $120 Million Series B


Cambridge, MA-based gene editing startup Editas Medicine has raised a massive, oversubscribed $120 million Series B led by Bng0, an investment company established exclusively to consolidate investments for Editas. Bng0 is managed by Boris Nikolic, MD, former chief science and technology advisor to Bill Gates. Through his leadership, Bng0 raised the funding round from a large contingency of investment firms, including Khosla Ventures, Google Ventures, Deerfield Management, and others. Returning investors Flagship Ventures, Polaris Partners, Third Rock Ventures, and Partners Innovation Fund also joined the round.  As part of the funding round, Nikolic has joined the Editas Medicine Board of Directors.

CRISPER/Cas9 is a defense mechanism found in bacteria that was discovered by researchers in 2007. Researchers found that certain bacteria have the ability to slice the genes of invading viruses at key locations in the DNA strand. Soon, researchers realized that the bacteria could be used as part of a larger gene splicing and editing system. By 2013, CRISPR/Cas9 had become a cutting-edge, genome-editing technology that researchers have used to accurately splice DNA and replace targeted sections with newly engineered segments. To date, the technology has been successfully used to edit the genes of a number of animals as well as single-cell human embryos.

Editas Medicine is working to commercialize CRIPSPR/Cas-9 by creating gene-editing medicines that it hopes could one day give clinicians new ways of treating various diseases. Its laundry list of prestigious investors give credence to its progress, and Nikolic describes the company as one that is working “at the forefront of genome editing – one of the most exciting and important frontiers in science.” To start, CRISPR is working on a treatment for a genetic form of blindness called Leber’s congenital amaurosis type 10. Editas is also partnering with Juno Therapeutics to research applications in cancer treatment, and has a third research project focused on treating hemoglobinopathy, a genetic condition that limits the ability of red blood cells to transport oxygen.

While these therapies are likely years away, Editas is consolidating R&D efforts and expertise in one of the more promising subsectors of pharmaceutical research and is justly drawing investment attention for its efforts. If any one treatment proves to be clinically effective, Editas will likely boom into a multi-billion dollar business.

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