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Atlas, Newpath throw $125M behind a new approach to gene editing from the field’s biggest names

Nov 17, 2021

Jason Mast Editor A handful of the world’s most prominent gene editing-focused academics have been working for over a year on a new company built around a new approach for modifying DNA to treat disease. Known as Chroma Medicine, it launched on Wednesday with $125 million in early funding from Atlas, Newpath, Cormorant and several other VCs. Chroma will focus on a markedly different way of modifying the genome than most of the gene editing biotechs that have arisen since CRISPR was pioneered nearly a decade ago. Instead of trying to erase or rewrite portions of a patient’s actual DNA — those As, Ts, Cs and Gs — Chroma will try to change the way that DNA is expressed in the cell. Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription Unlock this story instantly and join 123,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free. SIGN UP Jason Mast Editor A few weeks after Jennifer Doudna introduced CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing to the world, one of her old students decided to take the central part of the biology-altering invention and kill it. CRISPR/Cas9, as the name implies, is a two-part system: a string of letters called a guide RNA, that says where to cut the DNA. And an enzyme, Cas9, that does the cutting. Often compared to molecular scissors, it was the first system that allowed researchers to cut DNA with ease and precision, promising potential cures for genetic diseases such as sickle cell and cystic fibrosis. Premium subscription required Amber Tong Senior Editor A month after conceding a mid-stage failure, Roche is dropping the Covid-19 antiviral pill it was jointly developing with Atea. The little biotech, which had received $350 million cash upfront from Roche last October and raised another $215 million earlier in the pandemic, said it has both the financial resources and talent to carry on with a planned Phase III trial and eventually steer the drug, AT527, to market. Roche had originally bought in to grab the ex-US rights. Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription Unlock this story instantly and join 123,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free. SIGN UP Max Gelman Editor By most accounts, the biotech sector has boomed throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly for companies looking to go public through a traditional IPO or the ever-more-popular SPAC route. But as one Flagship biotech found out, some of the luster might be wearing off. Valo Health and its SPAC partner , the first of Khosla Ventures’ three blank check companies, called off their merger late Monday in a statement citing only the vague “current market conditions” as the reason. The termination came just one day before a shareholder meeting where a vote on the merger was expected. Read More Nicole DeFeudis Editor About a week after Pfizer asked regulators to expand its Covid-19 booster shot EUA to include all adults, the CDC’s Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices has scheduled a meeting to discuss the idea. ACIP will meet this Friday , and is expected to give an official recommendation soon after, The Associated Press reported on Tuesday. Pfizer and BioNTech’s booster shot is currently authorized for those 65 years and older, or at high-risk of a Covid infection, including health care workers and others with occupational hazards. Before deciding on those limitations, the FDA’s advisory committee on Vaccines and Related Biological Products (VRBPAC) roundly rejected Pfizer/BioNTech booster shots for all individuals older than 16 by a 16-2 vote. Read More Amber Tong Senior Editor Can injecting messenger RNA directly into the heart of patients who’ve experienced heart failure help repair the organ? More than three years after AstraZeneca and Moderna launched a first-of-its-kind Phase II trial to test the idea, the pair has now shown the procedure is at least safe. In a Phase II trial dubbed EPICCURE, seven were treated with AZD8601 — mRNA-encoding vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF-A) — while four were given placebo. After six months of follow-up, investigators concluded the drug met the primary endpoints on safety and tolerability, while the exploratory efficacy analyses support further clinical evaluation. Keep reading Endpoints with a free subscription Unlock this story instantly and join 123,400+ biopharma pros reading Endpoints daily — and it's free. SIGN UP LOG IN

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