Seamless Launches with $12.5M for Programmable Recombinases Platform
Pictured: Seamless Therapeutics' Anne-Kristin Heninger, CEO and Felix Lansing, CSO/company courtesy
Seamless Therapeutics launched Wednesday with $12.5 million in seed financing to develop its programmable recombinases for gene editing.
Seamless’ platform of reprogrammed site-specific recombinases gives a range of options for gene editing, including inversion, excision, exchange and insertion of small to large DNA fragments. The tech is designed to target any site within the genome.
“We want to aim for gene correction,” Anne-Kristin Heninger, CEO and co-founder of Seamless, told BioSpace. She noted that insertion with recombinases allows for very large gene fragments, with thousands of base pairs.
Recombinases enzymes have been around for decades but have previously been limited in programmability to act on new target sites. A team from the cancer center at the University of Dresden published a paper in Nature about an algorithm, RecGen, that they discovered for the intelligent generation of “designer-recombinases” for precision genome editing.
The breakthrough work from Frank Buchholz and postdoc Felix Lansing led to the founding of RecTech, now under the name Seamless. Lansing will lead the way as CSO alongside co-founder and Heninger.
In a nod to the company's moniker, Lansing told BioSpace, “Recombinases can modify DNA seamlessly."
For now, the developing pipeline targets are vague, identified only as “a broad spectrum of indications.” Lansing called the opportunities “endless” and said the team will want to include the full breadth of potential to invert, excise, exchange and insert to treat disease.
Heninger said the pipeline is already in progress, with one particular target in preclinical stages and others in the discovery stage.
Seamless’ seed round was led by Wellington Partners and Forbion and included a non-dilutive funding from BMBF GO-Bio, a German government program supporting innovative life science startups.
A Hot Topic
Gene editing remains a hot trend, with approaches evolving rapidly since Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier’s discovery of the CRISPR/Cas9 genetic snips. The approach has been limited due to risks of causing unintended changes to the DNA and double-strand breaks.
That’s not to say that CRISPR is out, by any means. Currently, CRISPR Therapeutics and Genprex are vying to be first to create a functional cure for T1D through gene editing. CRISPR is in the lead, having acquired ViaCyte last July. The companies have already completed dosing of Phase I subjects as of February.
Genprex is still in the preclinical phase with assets for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes.
Moderna is combining mRNA tech with Life Edit Therapeutics' base editing for therapeutics with an undisclosed payment to the gene editor. Without revealing specific targets, the CEO of ElevateBio, Life Edit’s parent company, told BioSpace Moderna’s LNP delivery with Life Edit’s base editing is the “ideal sort of combination” for therapeutics targeting the liver.
Lansing believes Seamless’ approach will potentially be safer than CRISPR due to target cycle length and how the recombinases work. No DNA repair is involved, which he said is often the cause of errors in other editing approaches.