Moonwalk Biosciences Launches with $57 Million in Financing to Advance a New Class of Precision Epigenetic Medicines

 
  • Novel platform technology provides a complete view of the epigenome in health and disease, with the most advanced AI prediction of epigenetic targets, and the broadest set of epigenetic engineering tools.
  • Co-founded by Alex Aravanis, M.D., Ph.D., former CTO of Illumina, world-renowned scientist Feng Zhang, Ph.D. of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, and a distinguished set of industry leaders and company builders.
  • $57 million raised led by Alpha Wave Ventures, and joined by other leading life sciences investors ARCH Venture Partners, Future Ventures, GV, Khosla Ventures and YK Bioventures.
 

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. & SAN DIEGO--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Moonwalk Biosciences, a genomic medicine company pioneering precision epigenetic medicines, today announced the completion of $57 million in seed and Series A financing from Alpha Wave Ventures, ARCH Venture Partners, Future Ventures, GV, Khosla Ventures and YK Bioventures. The financing will support continued advancement of Moonwalk’s epigenetic profiling and engineering technology platform and progress its pipeline of epigenetic therapeutics towards the clinic.

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Moonwalk Biosciences founding team (from left to right): Alex Aravanis, CEO, Justin Valley, COO, Elaine Cheung, CBO, Arash Jamshidi, President & CTO. Photo credit: Erin Beach

Moonwalk Biosciences founding team (from left to right): Alex Aravanis, CEO, Justin Valley, COO, Elaine Cheung, CBO, Arash Jamshidi, President & CTO. Photo credit: Erin Beach

By targeting the epigenetic code – the software of the genome – Moonwalk aims to reprogram cells to their healthy state, fundamentally enabling a new approach to how therapies are discovered and developed. Moonwalk is the first company that couples an epigenetic discovery platform with precise engineering – opening up the epigenome as a new target space for complex diseases. Moonwalk’s focus on epigenetic engineering leverages comprehensive read-and-write technologies to develop potentially curative therapies for a variety of different diseases at the root cause level.

Moonwalk was co-founded by Alex Aravanis, M.D., Ph.D., Arash Jamshidi, Ph.D., and Justin Valley, Ph.D., leaders in biotechnology who bring decades of proven execution on translating complex science into clinical products, as well as scientific co-founder Feng Zhang, Ph.D., core member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, McGovern Institute investigator, the James and Patricia Poitras Professor of Neuroscience at MIT and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. The company’s mission is to develop effective, safe and durable epigenetic medicines that leverage the most comprehensive insights on cellular epigenetics to date across a variety of indications.

Existing methods for gene editing involve altering DNA by cutting or making small breaks, which can be risky due to unpredictable repair processes and changes to its sequence. These methods also typically target known genes. Moonwalk's innovative epigenetic editors work differently, using the cell's natural regulation system to accurately and permanently control multiple genes in a single step, without altering the DNA sequence itself. This pioneering technique, enhanced by unparalleled insights from Moonwalk’s AI-driven profiling technologies, allows the company to address multiple factors involved in complex conditions more effectively, minimizing off-target effects and toxicities while leaving the primary DNA sequence intact.

“Epigenetics is the software of the genome. While changes to the genome are irreversible, edits to the epigenome can be reprogrammed in different ways. Epigenetic changes determine whether genes are turned on or off, and can potentially reverse disease, broadening the therapeutic landscape to find potential cures previously thought impossible,” said Alex Aravanis, M.D., Ph.D., CEO and Co-Founder, Moonwalk Biosciences. “Epigenome engineering is the next frontier of genetic medicines, and we believe the most effective strategies require a deep understanding of the epigenetic landscape of cellular states. This emerging new field can create safer and more effective treatments for a broad range of diseases without damaging or changing the underlying DNA sequence.”

Veteran Leadership Team

Moonwalk is launching with a veteran leadership team with deep expertise in epigenetic biology, AI, and clinical product development:

  • Alex Aravanis, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder
  • Arash Jamshidi, Ph.D., Co-Founder, President and Chief Technology Officer
  • Justin Valley, Ph.D., Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer
  • Elaine Cheung, M.S., Chief Business Officer
  • Sam Gross, Ph.D., Head of Bioinformatics & ML/AI
  • Rigel Kishton, Ph.D., Head of Immunology Research

“Historically, the epigenome was poorly understood. Moonwalk is operating at a different level of biology, by profiling and unlocking our understanding of the epigenome to enable more precise engineering. The company’s novel platform technology provides the highest-resolution, complete view of the epigenome in health and disease to uniquely address unmet medical needs across various indications, including complex diseases. The team has developed the most advanced AI prediction of epigenetic targets, and the broadest set of epigenetic engineering tools to develop potentially curative therapies,” said Rick Gerson, Chairman of Alpha Wave Global. “Moonwalk’s epigenetic engineering platform represents an exciting new era in genetic medicine, by targeting the root cause of disease.”

“It is rare to have the privilege to back two founders, Drs. Aravanis and Zhang, together, each of whom ARCH has backed before in successful companies that broke scientific ground. We look forward to what new innovations Moonwalk can advance in epigenetic engineering,” said Robert Nelsen, Managing Director and Co-Founder, ARCH Venture Partners.

About Moonwalk Biosciences

Moonwalk Biosciences is an early-stage therapeutics company co-founded by Dr. Feng Zhang and leading experts in cell state epigenetics including Alex Aravanis, the former CTO of Illumina. The company has developed a differentiated approach to mapping the epigenome of cellular states at the whole genome, single cell resolution level, as well as proprietary strategies for precise epigenetic engineering. The combination enables both a novel discovery platform and a path to developing therapeutics that include both epigenetic engineering and other traditional modalities. For more information, visit www.moonwalk.bio.

About Alpha Wave Global

Alpha Wave is a global investment company that focuses on three main verticals: private equity, private credit, and public markets. It is led by Rick Gerson, Navroz Udwadia, and Ryan Khoury. Alpha Wave has offices in New York, Miami, London, Monaco, Madrid, Abu Dhabi, Tel Aviv, Bangalore, Jakarta, and Sydney. Its flagship global venture and growth fund, Alpha Wave Ventures, aims to invest in best-in-class venture and growth-stage companies and endeavors to be helpful long-term partners to the founders and management teams. For more information, please visit www.alphawaveglobal.com.

Contacts

Media
Kimberly Ha
KKH Advisors
917-291-5744
kimberly.ha@kkhadvisors.com

 
 

Source: Moonwalk Biosciences

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Moonwalk Biosciences founding team (from left to right): Alex Aravanis, CEO, Justin Valley, COO, Elaine Cheung, CBO, Arash Jamshidi, President & CTO. Photo credit: Erin Beach

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