NEW YORK – Therapeutic gene editing startup Epic Bio said on Tuesday that it has raised $55 million in Series A financing.
The firm, which is developing therapies to modulate gene expression, was founded by Stanley Qi, a bioengineer and named co-inventor on the CRISPR patent held by the University of California.
Epic's mission is to develop a new class of genetic medicines that act on the epigenome. The company has developed what it calls the GEMS (Gene Expression Modulation System) platform to precisely modify gene expression. GEMS includes the largest known library of novel modulators, combined with functional and computational genomics capabilities, to rapidly design guide RNAs that are highly specific to the targeted genes.
The firm also holds an exclusive license from Stanford University to the ultracompact DNA-binding protein CasMini for human use. CasMini is the smallest Cas protein created to date, at less than half the size of Cas9 and Cas12a. According to Epic, this small size enables delivery of Epic’s therapeutic candidates in vivo via a single AAV vector to a wide range of target organs.
The Series A funding will specifically support Epic’s preclinical programs in five initial indications — facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD), heterozygous familial hypercholesterolemia (HeFH), alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency (A1AD), retinitis pigmentosa 4 (RP4), and retinitis pigmentosa 11 (RP11) — as well as the ongoing development of the company’s platform and discovery efforts.
"Our lead program in FSHD has a clear line of sight to clinical entry next year, and other programs are close behind. We are excited to realize the sweeping impact epigenetic engineering could have on the standard of care for many serious diseases," Epic CEO Amber Salzman said in a statement.
The firm said it is also collaborating with academic and industry partners to apply its platform across a variety of other disease areas.