Beam Therapeutics – Gene Editing Startup Bags $135M in Series B top-up
$135 million has been raised by Beam Therapeutics in second-round funding, which will be used to advance its single-base approach to gene editing.
Beam’s take on CRISPR is that its approach to the technology is more precise than genome-editing techniques and can target just 1 base — A, T, C or G — out of billions. “Traditional” CRISPR-Cas9 editing cuts a whole gene to create a break in DNA or RNA, while the approach initiated by one of Beam‘s founders –David Liu, Ph.D., of Harvard University–directly converts a single base into another.
Hoping that it is going to have the ability to change sequences without the risk of unintended, off-target effects that some researchers suggest could be a problem for CRISPR as well as other technologies such as TALEN and zinc-finger nucleases.
With over half of the genetic errors associated with the disease resulting from a change in the foundations that form the human genome and some 33,000 point mutations identified as being linked to genetic diseases, the potential uses of Beam’s platform are enormous.
For now, though, the biotech is continuing its policy of keeping its therapeutic targets under wraps, although it has revealed that its programs are split between ex vivo modification of cells that can act as therapeutics and delivery of foundation editors that could modify genomes directly within the body.
“Since the launch of Beam this past year we’ve made considerable progress toward our aim of developing base editors as a new class of precision genetic medicines,” states Beam’s CEO John Evans.
The new cash will allow Beam to “continue to expand our team and capacities, expand our leadership position in base-editing technology, and move our pipeline towards clinical development,” he added.
The series B comes After a solid funding round of $87 million, last year headed by ARCH Venture Partners and F-Prime Capital Partners, which Beam said had already provided two to three decades of cash. The new versions include Cormorant Asset Management, Redmile Group with earlier backers ARCH, Omega Funds and Eight Roads Ventures contributing once again to new investors.