Chroma Scores $135M for Epigenetic Editing Approach
Catherine Stehman-Breen, CEO, Chroma Medicine/company courtesy
Google Ventures (GV) led the Massachusetts-based biotech’s successful funding round, announced Wednesday, along with a slew of new and existing investors. Chroma will use the new funds to drive its programs toward the clinic.
Chroma’s approach to genetic medicines avoids the pitfalls of traditional CRISPR gene editing, for which off-target effects and toxicities are a key challenge.
While the CRISPR scissor cuts often leverage unpredictable DNA repair pathways, Chroma's platform enables precise gene control through the epigenome without changing the DNA sequence.
The approach contains multiple advantages over traditional editing, including regulation without on-target consequences and enables multiplex editing – edits to several genomic loci simultaneously.
“Had this technology been initially developed at the same time as CRISPR-Cas9-based gene editing, we believe epigenetic editing would be the modality of choice for gene editing,” Catherine Stehman-Breen, CEO, Chroma, told BioSpace.
While declining to disclose any therapeutic target or timeline the clinic, Stehman-Breen said the initial strategy is to “establish the platform with validated targets and delivery methods in areas that showcase our differentiation in areas of unmet medical need.”
In today's biotech market, the science needs to be compelling to secure buy-in from today’s investor. With rising interest rates and an uncertain economic future, only “higher quality” companies are attracting quality investors, Mike Rice, founding partner at LifeSci Advisors, told BioSpace in previous interview.
Chroma debuted in November 2021 with $125 million for its gene editing technology, dubbed CRISPRoff, based on the pioneering work of the biotech’s six founders.
The company has grown from 27 employees to 80 since its launch and moved to a new spot in Boston to support the growing team. Continued expansion will be “intentional” as programs move through non-human primate studies and toward the clinic, Stehman-Breen said.
She credited the investors’ deep interest in the company to its “superior approach for gene regulation” and rapid progress in unlocking the technology’s potential over the past year and a half.
Chroma is the second recent genetic medicine investment for GV.
Google’s investment arm made a bet on Aera Therapeutics, which emerged from stealth mode with a combined-Series A and B financing in February 2023.
The $193 million will fuel Aera’s efforts to solve one of genetic medicine’s biggest hurdles – delivery. ARCH Venture Partners also went in on both Chroma and Aera.