Creyon Bio is Creating Precision Medicines for Diseases Common and Rare

Chris Hart, Swagatam Mukhopadhyay_Creyon Bio

Creyon Bio CEO Chris Hart and CSO Swagatam Mukhopadhyay/courtesy Creyon Bio

Creyon Bio, a San Diego and North Carolina-based drug development company, launched Tuesday with more than $40 million in seed and Series A financing led by DCVC Bio and Lux Capital.

Creyon engineers RNA-based medicines and their components, called oligonucleotide-based medicines (OBMs), with predictable safety and efficacy profiles using powerful machine learning built from its proprietary, purpose-built datasets.

Creyon offers a unique approach to solving a problem that faces many patients today.

“We started Creyon in the fall of 2019 and we were driven by this growing urgency that exists for too many patients where we can understand the molecular genetic basis of disease and have closure on the diagnostic odyssey," said Chris Hart, PhD, co-founder, CEO, and president of Creyon Bio, in an interview with BioSpace. "But too often for these patients, there’s no drug in sight.”

At the heart of Creyon's foundation is the need for therapeutics for patients of all populations, from those suffering from prevalent diseases that affect millions to extremely rare diseases that only impact one or two people. OBMs are especially primed to provide precision medicine because they can be engineered to directly target genetic and molecular causes of disease. 

Although Creyon is not the first to commandeer OBMs, the company offers a unique approach to the technology. By using advanced machine learning and AI along with purpose-built datasets, Creyon is poised to extract out design rules and engineering principles that can help to create a variety of drugs rather than focusing on one program or one therapeutic at a time.

This platform allows the company to create safe and effective OBMs with exceptional efficiency and enables the development of OBMs across various modalities. These include single-stranded antisense oligonucleotides that reduce gene expression levels or change splicing events, small interfering RNAs, and DNA and RNA editing systems. 

“What really excites us is that the platform is generic,” said Hart. “It has the capacity to help across the gambit of things and that comes from the fact that we can target pretty much any RNA, both coding and non-coding. Our focus so far has been on building out this platform to allow us to engineer these compounds in a way that we can serve advanced drug development across the space of both common and rare diseases.”

This has huge implications in the field of OBMs, which has traditionally been expensive and slow in drug development and typically follows trial-and-error conventions. 

“Oligonucleotide-based medicines can engage with genetic information and can be designed to be highly responsive to genetic information,” said Swagatam Mukhopadhyay, PhD, co-founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Creyon Bio. “The challenge has been that the power of the technology has been shackled to the traditional paradigm of trial-and-error screening. We truly believe, and our data shows, that it’s possible that these are highly engineered molecules with highly predictable pharmacological properties and if we do it right, the sky’s the limit.” 

Creyon Bio has already made several achievements at its core. The company has created a set of foundational technologies to explore the design space of OBMs and has used that data to develop hyper-informative datasets for in vitroin vivo and ex vivo experiments covering a spectrum of pharmacological endpoints that advance the understanding of a drug as it moves closer to the clinic. The datasets have then been turned into predictive models that advance the rate of new medicines being created.

“We’re at a place where we’re approaching orders of magnitude more efficient in terms of identifying lead candidates to move forward,” Hart said.

Although Creyon is not able to disclose any therapeutic candidates it is currently working on, the company is looking forward to growing its platform to become more efficient at identifying new compounds with the hopeful goal of eroding the time and cost to bring new drugs into clinical trials. 

“That really lays the foundation for enabling precision medicines for both broad populations of millions and populations of ultra-rare diseases using OBMs,” Hart closed.

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