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Organelle Genome Editing Startup Napigen Raises $7.9M

NEW YORK — Organelle genome editing startup Napigen said on Tuesday that it has raised $7.9 million in seed funding.

The financing round was led by the Grantham Foundation and RA Capital Management, with participation from Breakout Labs/Thiel Foundation, Thrive SVG Ventures, Marsbio, and the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation.

Headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware, Napigen is developing a technology to edit mitochondrial and chloroplast genomes for agricultural and human healthcare applications.

The company aims to use the new funding to apply its technology for hybrid seed production in wheat and rice, as well as to develop mitochondrial expression systems for use in plant mitochondria.

It has previously received funding from the United Mitochondrial Disease Foundation and the National Institutes of Health’s Small Business Innovation Research program to use its technology to edit human mitochondrial DNA.

"We need much more grains than people can produce now to support the steep population growth, a situation that is being made worse by geopolitical conflicts," Napigen Cofounder and CEO Hajime Sakai said in a statement. "This can only be possible with breaking the biological yield limit of crop plants, which is exactly what we are aiming to do. Yield increases benefit both agriculture and environmental protection by reducing the need for deforestation to create new farmland, as well as decreasing the use of agricultural chemicals."

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