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Write It In

A new start-up company aims to use an approach dubbed gene writing to make small changes to the genome, Wired reports.

The firm, Tessera Therapeutics, was founded in 2018 and, according to Wired, exited stealth mode earlier this week with $50 million in financing. The firm is focused on harnessing mobile genetic elements to add new genes or tweak existing ones within the genome, it adds, noting that the firm suspects this approach will be better suited to therapeutic applications than CRISPR-based gene editing.

So far, Tessera researchers have identified 6,000 retrotransposons and 2,000 transposons that they think could be adapted to make therapeutic changes to the genome, Wired reports. The firm, though, has yet to show that their "gene writers" can fix an inherited disease, but work in mouse models has indicated they could reliably insert the GFP gene using a small amount of material, it adds.

"We want to direct our attention right now to a bake-off of as many variations and engineered constructs as we can create," Geoffrey von Maltzahn, the CEO of Tessera, tells Wired.