On July 13, 2021, Prime Medicine, a Massachusetts biotech company developing next generation gene editing technology, emerged from stealth mode with $315 million in financing. The financing includes a $115 million Series A and a $200 million series B investment.
Prime Medicine is developing a new gene editing platform called Prime Editing. The platform is likened to the “search and replace” function of a word processor with the capability of editing genetic sequences at their exact locations in the genome. Compared with conventional CRISPR-Cas9 systems, prime editing enables more accurate gene editing with fewer off-target effects because the approach uses the cell’s intrinsic DNA mismatch system without the need of making double-strand DNA breaks. Also, the platform provides a more flexible gene editing tool that allows the replacement and insertion of various types of sequences into the genome. It is said that the platform has the potential to address more than 90 percent of known disease-causing mutations.
The scientific co-founders of Prime Medicine are David Liu (core member of the Broad Institute and professor at Harvard University) and Andrew Anzalone (former postdoc in Liu’s lab and now Head of prime editing platform at Prime Medicine). Liu, Anzalone, and colleagues at the Broad Institute first described the prime editing technology in a paper in Nature in 2019.
Prime Medicine is another CRISPR technology spin-off from the Broad Institute’s “inclusive innovation model.” Under this model, the Broad Institute, Harvard, and MIT license their CRISPR technology-related IP to a primary licensee. After an initial period, other companies may apply to license certain CRISPR-related IP for applications not being pursued by the primary licensee. Several Broad Institute’s spin-off companies, including Beam Therapeutics, Editas Medicine, Sherlock Biosciences, and Arbor Biotechnologies, have become major players in the CRISPR field.
Prime Medicine has a partnership with Beam Therapeutics, which develops a base editing platform capable of correcting point mutations with CRISPR technology. Liu serves as the scientific co-founder of both companies, which share research, expertise, and intellectual property for assays, know-how, delivery, and manufacturing. John Evans, CEO of Beam Therapeutics, is a director on the board of Prime Medicine.
“Prime Editing is a transformative technology that we believe will make a significant impact by addressing the fundamental causes of genetic disease,” said Keith Gottesdiener, MD, CEO of Prime Medicine. “We are operating from a position of financial strength, and look forward to further developing the technology and progressing our preclinical programs toward the clinic, with the hope that they may cure or halt the progression of genetic diseases for patients.”
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