Precision BioSciences Closed on a $110 Million Series B Financing
Precision BioSciences, headquartered in Durham, North Carolina, closed on an oversubscribed Series B financing worth $110 million.
It was led by ArrowMark Partners and joined by new investors Franklin Templeton Investments, Cowen Healthcare Investments, Brace Pharma Capital, Pontifax AgTech, OCV Partners, Adage Capital Management, Cormorant Asset Management, Gilead Sciences, Vivo Capital, Alexandria Venture Investments, Ridgeback Capital, Agent Capital, and entities affiliated with Leerink Partners.
Also participating were existing investors venBio, F-Prime, RA Capital Management, Amgen Ventures, Osage University Partners, DUMAC, and the Longevity Fund.
The funds will be used to continue developing its ARCUS genome editing platform in the areas of immuno-oncology, genetic disease, and food. ARCUS is the company’s homing endonuclease-derived genome editing platform. Specifically, the company indicates it plans to take its lead, off-the-shelf CAR-T product into the clinic. It also plans to advance both its lead in vivo gene therapy program into IND-enabling studies and its flagship food program into field trials.
The company’s gene therapy approach is designed to use genome editing to correct the genetic problem at its source to permanently cure disease. Its focus will be on genetic diseases that have a clearly established genetic cause that have no adequate treatments.
The food program will be used to precisely target improvements to genes related to crop quality, yield, and performance traits. “We believe that we can advance food products and recover or ‘re-wild’ needed genes lost through breeding in our existing food stock,” the company states on its website. “And by generating these products in a safe, non-GMO, and non-breeding manner, these crops will greatly expand choices for sustainable products and help to feed a quickly growing and changing world.”
The company’s tech platform uses homing endonucleases, which it calls nature’s genome editing system. They are site-specific enzymes that cut DNA. They are encoded in the genomes of many eukaryotic (non-bacterial) species. They are able to precisely recognize DNA sequences that are 12 to 40 base pairs long and that are usually rare enough to happen only once in a complex genome.
Precision BioSciences states on its website, “These non-destructive enzymes trigger gene conversion events that modify the genome in a very precise way, most frequently by the insertion of a new DNA sequence. The ability to target a single DNA break in a complex genome and to achieve gene modification without random off-targeting makes homing endonucleases the ideal starting material for a therapeutic-grade genome editing technology.”
The ARCUS technology uses the ARC nuclease, a fully synthetic enzyme similar to a homing endonuclease, but can be customized to recognize a DNA sequence within any target gene.
Along with the Series B financing, Tony Yao of ArrowMark will join the company’s board of directors.
“We are thrilled to have such strong support from these leading healthcare investors who share in our vision for the future of human health through innovations in food and medicine,” said Matt Kane, Precision’s chief executive officer, in a statement. “This financing provides us with a strong foundation from which we can advance our translational genome editing programs in multiple sectors.”