Date: 15th July 2021
Prime Medicine™, a biotech company formed around the ‘search-and-replace’ gene editing technology, prime editing, has launched with $315 million in financing.
In 2019, prime editing became the newest sensation in the gene editing field, emerging from David Liu’s lab at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, US. The idea first conceived by Andrew Anzalone was developed in the Liu lab as a ‘search-and-replace’ genome editing tool that was in principle able to correct about 89% of known pathogenic human genetic variants.
The system comprises of catalytically impaired Cas9 (nickase) tethered to an engineered reverse transcriptase (RT) dubbed the prime editor (PE). This complex initiates the ‘search’ of target DNA. Once the target is found, prime editing guide RNAs (pegRNA), containing both a DNA-targeting and template repair domain, together with the PE, find and nick one strand of the DNA. The nicked DNA primes the RT domain for DNA synthesis, and finally the PE complex copies in the corrected DNA sequence into the genome.
Now, Prime Medicine, co-founded by Liu and Anzalone, based in Cambridge, US, has secured $315 million in financing. Comprising of $115 million Series A – based on the rapid progress of the science and the company – with investors including included ARCH Venture Partners, F-Prime Capital, GV, and Newpath Partners. Then swiftly followed, around 9 months after the company began operations, by $200M Series B funding secured from the same investors, as well as a new range of venture capital funders and other life sciences investment funds.
The mission of the company is to address the fundamental genetic causes of disease, restore normal gene function, and potentially providing patients with long-lasting cures. Prime Editing is a transformative technology that represents an opportunity to do what no gene editing approach has yet been capable of – correcting nearly all types of pathogenic gene mutations, correcting multiple mutations at once, and bringing durable cures to patients across multiple disease areas, potentially with a single ‘once and done’ treatment approach.
The funds raised will be used to continue building the company, so that the technology can rapidly advance towards clinical applications. They will expand the capabilities of the platform, and further enhance the exceptional promise of Prime Editing. By the end of 2021, Prime Medicine expects to employ more than 100 people full-time.
Prime Medicine is ideally placed to bring their mission to fruition. They benefit from a partnership with Beam Therapeutics, another one of Liu’s companies to spin out of the lab. Prime Medicine and Beam share research, expertise, and intellectual property for assays, know-how, delivery, and manufacturing.
Prime Medicine is currently advancing multiple drug discovery programs targeted at liver, eye, ex-vivo hematopoietic stem cell, and neuro-muscular indications. The funding will accelerate developing the technology and translating preclinical programs towards to the clinic in the near future.