Synthego Snags $110 Million in Series C to Advance Vision of Making CRISPR Technology More Available

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Genome engineering company Synthego received an infusion of $110 million from a Series C financing round led by Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund. The funds will be used to accelerate the company’s vision to make CRISPR technology more accessible to researchers.

Paul Dabrowski, co-founder and chief executive officer of Redwood, Calif.-based Synthego, shared his vision for more accessible CRISPR technology, particularly as the price of treatments continues to increase. Cell and gene therapies are difficult to develop, have limited reach and are priced at hundreds of thousands of dollars, Dabrowski told BioSpace in an exclusive interview.

As the science of gene therapy continues to advance as a potential “one-and-done” treatment, including the recent regulatory approval of Spark Therapeuticsgene therapy Luxturna for a rare, genetic form of blindness, Dabrowski said the potential as a treatment for a wide variety of illnesses should be something accessible to everyone, regardless of the costs. That’s part of the vision of Synthego. Dabrowski said he envisions a time when cell and gene therapies are as much a part of the treatment landscape as vaccines currently are. Dabrowski said he believes everyone should be able to benefit from next-generation cures. He said the technology such as what Synthego offers, is an “equalizer” for society. He said that’s the compassionate case for where his vision can go.

“With the idea of personalized cell and gene therapies, we’re talking about curing disorders for millions of people. There are hundreds of thousands of people who die each year and our industry can have a big impact,” Dabrowski said.

With the new funding in hand, Dabrowski said the company will “double down” on its two main product lines, a line of engineered cells, as well as its CRISPR evolution kits. The company’s “full-stack” genome engineering products are designed to provide a broader access to CRISPR technology to help scientists in their quests to solve some of the biggest health-related issues facing humanity. The Synthego product lines provide researchers an end-to-end genome engineering platform, from design to editing and analysis. Dabrowski said the company’s products allow researchers to access CRISPR technology without actually having to become an expert in CRISPR.

Synthego, in a manner of speaking, is a gun for hire in providing the technological groundwork that supports scientific research and development. Additionally, the company’s platform provides the validation of any new therapeutic undertaking. Dabrowski said the company’s full stack genome engineering platform leverages automation, bioinformatics and machine learning. The Synthego product line essentially allows researchers a “one-click access” to engineered cells with guaranteed edits in their desired target.

Calling Synthego’s offerings an “on-demand format for gene modification,” Dabrowski said the product lines simplify the process and allow scientists to conduct their research and “successfully and efficiently.” He noted that the guarantee the company offers is unique in the industry and extends from Synthego’s technology.

Dabrowski said the company had actually not anticipated having the Series C funding round at this time, but that company investors, including 8VC and Menlo Ventures, wanted to initiate the funding round because of their confidence in the Synthego platforms. The Series C funding round brings Synthego’s total funding to $160 million.

In addition to strong financial support, Synthego has also benefitted from significant support within the scientific community. Synthego’s advisory board includes noted industry leaders such as Sir Andrew Witty, the former CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, as well as Jennifer Doudna, the co-inventor of CRISPR. Coupled with the latest funding round includes the addition of Matthew Porteus, a Stanford University professor, physician at the Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital and pioneer of cell-based therapies, to the company’s advisory board. Porteus is also a scientific co-founder of CRISPR Therapeutics, a company focused on developing gene-editing based therapeutics.

The past several years have been good for Synthego as the CRISPR revolution continues to move forward. The company has tripled production capacity and added thousands of customers in more than 30 countries. The company currently has about 130 employees and Dabrowski said the company expects to double in size over the next year. Dabrowski said the company will begin hiring for multiple positions and will continue for the foreseeable future.

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