Startups are building software, medicines, and even genetically edited pigs based on the CRISPR gene editing technique.
The last 3 years have been a boon for the genetic engineering sector. Last year alone saw the IPOs of Editas Medicine, CRISPR Therapeutics, and Intellia Therapeutics, all valued at over $500M at exit.
Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier, founders of Intellia Therapeutics & CRISPR Therapeutics, published their first paper on the potential uses of the CRISPR-Cas gene editing technique in 2012. While still an emerging field of study, CRISPR has since gone on to become a celebrity technology in the scientific community, holding promise for applications in healthcare, agriculture, renewable energy, and many other fields. Funding has also picked up to genetic engineering startups, surpassing $1B for the first time in 2016.
CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) refers to the system by which an enzyme (Cas) is able to target and modify a genetic sequence in the DNA of interest. For example, segments of immune cell DNA could be removed and substituted with a sequence to promote the attack of specific forms of cancer.
Below we take a look a 7 of the most promising private companies working with CRISPR today.
Synthego, based in Redwood City, California, offers CRISPR gene editing kits and custom-built synthetic RNA in order to increase the speed and decrease the cost of genetic research.
Select investors: Founders Fund, Menlo Ventures, 8VC, Alexandria Real Estate Ventures, AME Cloud Ventures, Jennifer Doudna
Total disclosed funding: $49.8M
2. Caribou Biosciences
Caribou Biosciences, co-founded by Jennifer Doudna of Intellia Therapeutics, employs the CRISPR/Cas9 system to develop new biotechnologies in therapeutics, agriculture, research, and industrials.
Select investors: Novartis Venture Funds, F-Prime Capital, 5 Prime Ventures, Mission Bay Capital, Maverick Ventures
Total disclosed funding: $41.5M
eGenesis, also co-founded by Dr. George Church and based in Brookline, MA, is developing pigs for human organ transplantation. The company is trying to remove enough specific pig genes via CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technology to enable the transplantation of pig organs into humans. eGenesis recently received investment from Biomatics Capital Partners, a newly formed $200M biotech fund led by two former Bill & Melinda Gates staffers.
Select investors: Khosla Ventures, Biomatics Capital Partners, ARCH Venture Partners, Alta Partners
Total disclosed funding: $40M
4. Poseida Therapeutics
Poseida Therapeutics, co-founded by Dr. George Church and based in La Jolla, California, uses genome editing technologies, such as CRISPR, to develop targeted therapeutics in areas of high unmet medical need. The company currently has gene therapies in development for multiple myeloma, prostate cancer and beta-thalassemia.
Select investors: Malin Corporation
Total disclosed funding: $30M
Benchling, based in San Francisco, California, develops a research platform where, “scientists can design, share, and record experiments on one interface.” The platform has applications in protein design, molecular engineering, and CRISPR research, among other fields.
Select investors: Andreessen Horowitz, Thrive Capital, Ashton Kutcher, Rock Health, Draper Associates, Y Combinator
Total disclosed funding: $13M
Agenovir, based in South San Francisco, California, is applying genome editing technologies, such as CRISPR/Cas9, to the treatment of viral diseases. The company is currently focused on specific forms of cervical cancer, anal cancer, warts, cytomegalovirus, and Ebstein-Barr virus infections.
Select investors: Celgene, Data Collective, Lightspeed Venture Partners
Total disclosed funding: $10.6
7. Exonics Therapeutics
Exonics Therapeutics, based in Boston, Massachusetts, is a newly formed company employing CRISPR/Cas9 technologies to permanently correct genetic mutations resulting in neuromuscular diseases like Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Select investors: CureDuchenne Ventures
Total disclosed funding: $5M
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