NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Emerging biotechnology company Locus Biosciences announced today that it has closed a $5 million convertible note, and will use the funds to support the development of antimicrobial therapeutics based on CRISPR-Cas3 technology.
Financing for the round was led by Chinese Internet services provider Tencent Holdings and was joined by the North Carolina Biotechnology Center. Locus said the funding will help it advance development on several infectious disease products targeting antibiotic resistant infections and other microbiome-related diseases.
The company's approach to killing target bacteria uses the CRISPR-Cas3 system to irreversibly destroy bacterial DNA. CRISPR-Cas3 has unique properties that allow it to target and eradicate specific bacterial populations, unlike CRISPR-Cas9, which is primarily used to edit genomes. Locus said Cas3's properties will be useful in addressing the challenges associated with broad-spectrum antibiotics and antibiotic resistance.
"Our novel CRISPR-Cas3 approach to precision antimicrobials works by commandeering a bacterial cell immune system present in many bacteria, so we never modify human cells," said Locus CSO Rodolphe Barrangou in a statement. "This makes our technology ideal for addressing pathogenic targets throughout the microbiome while avoiding currently known antibiotic resistance mechanisms and leaving non-target bacteria and human cells unharmed."