Gene editing startup Editas Medicine raises $120 million (Boston Globe)
By Robert Weisman, Boston Globe
Cambridge biotech startup Editas Medicine, which is developing treatments to modify genetic defects that cause diseases, Monday said it raised $120 million from a group of investors that included Fidelity Investments and a fund backed by Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates.
The large funding round underscores growing interest by scientists and financial backers in the emerging field of gene-editing, which seeks to repair defective mutations responsible for more than 5,000 genetic diseases.
The company will use the cash to develop a gene editing approach that eventually could be used in multiple therapeutic areas, including ophthalmology and oncology, said chief executive Katrine Bosley.
“This speaks to the future of genomic editing and how we’re approaching it,” Bosley said in an interview. “There’s certainly a lot of work to do to translate this idea into medicines. Having a substantial financial foundation gives us an opportunity to do more things in parallel. We’re trying to figure out how to address each disease target in a systematic manner.”
Editas was formed in November 2013 to develop genomic editing technologies, licensed from medical research labs at Harvard University, Massachusetts General Hospital, and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.
Company scientists are seeking a way to cut defective mutations out of genetic material and replace them with healthy cells engineered by using a specific protein.
Bosley said Editas has a number of active research programs, including one to address a rare eye disease that causes blindness in about 1,000 people in the United States. It has also struck a partnership to share its gene-editing technology with another startup, Juno Therapeutics Inc. in Seattle, which is working to genetically engineer cells that can recognize and kill cancers.
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