NEW YORK – Gene editing company Prime Medicine launched on Tuesday with $315 million in financing.
The company, which was cofounded by the Broad Institute's David Liu and Andrew Anzalone, uses the prime editing approach in its platform. The technique, which was developed by Liu, Anzalone, and their colleagues in October 2019, works like a word processor that can search for and replace disease-causing mutations at precise locations in the genome without causing double-stranded DNA breaks, Prime Medicine said.
In a study in Nature that first described the approach, the researchers said it works by directly writing new genetic information into a specified DNA site using a catalytically impaired Cas9 fused to an engineered reverse transcriptase and programmed with a prime editing guide RNA. The RNA specifies the target site and encodes the desired edit.
In this way, it's able to correct about 89 percent of all known human pathogenic variants.
The Broad has extended a license for prime editing technology to Prime Medicine for human therapeutic uses under the institute's inclusive innovation model.
The financing comprised a $115 million Series A round and a $200 million Series B round that ended approximately nine months after the company began operations. Investors in the Series A included ARCH Venture Partners, F-Prime Capital, GV, and Newpath Partners. Investors in the Series B included all Series A investors, along with Casdin Capital, Cormorant Asset Management, Moore Strategic Ventures, Public Sector Pension Investment Board, Redmile Group, Samsara BioCapital, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, and a number of additional, unnamed life sciences investment funds.
The company said it will use the funds to advance the prime editing platform toward clinical indications and to further expand its capabilities. The firm is currently advancing multiple drug-discovery programs targeted at liver, eye, ex vivo hematopoietic stem cell, and neuromuscular indications.
By the end of 2021, Prime Medicine said it expects to employ more than 100 people full time.
"Prime Editing is a transformative technology that we believe will make a significant impact by addressing the fundamental causes of genetic disease," said Prime Medicine CEO Keith Gottesdiener. "Since Prime began operations in the summer of 2020, we have continued to make great progress in advancing the performance of prime editing, which allowed us to close our Series B financing nine months later. We are operating from a position of financial strength, and look forward to further developing the technology and progressing our preclinical programs toward the clinic."