Tune Therapeutics Debuts with $40 Million to Fine-Tune the Human Genome
Tune CEO Matt Kane/Courtesy Tune Therapeutics
Tune Therapeutics debuted Thursday, introducing TEMPO, a precise genetic tuning platform, which seeks to fine-tune gene expression in the emerging class of epi-therapeutics.
The Durham and Seattle-based biotechnology company said TEMPO has the power to reverse pathways of cancer, aging and other genetic diseases by altering cell fate and function at will. Tune claims TEMPO can rapidly target and adjust the epigenomic machinery, controlling gene expression and dictating how the DNA will be molded. The platform could aid in diseases engaging multiplex or polygenic interactions and has the capacity to fine-tune gene expression toward healthy levels through varying specific control modules in an iterative process.
Contrary to genome editing, TEMPO does not generate double- or single-strand breaks in DNA, nor rewrite or produce permanent changes to the DNA sequence. This, the company said, allows it to simultaneously turn silenced genes on and dial over-expressed genes down in a practical therapeutic context.
Epigenetics and epi-therapeutics are exploding in 2021, and with seemingly good reason. A high percentage of human disease is governed by the epigenome, which is the subtle machinery that drives the motion of gene expression in our cells. According to Tune, traditional genetic medicine has focused on protein-encoding sequences, which make up only 2% of the human genome. By focusing on non-protein encoding gene sequences, Tune is looking to capitalize on the value of exploring the epigenome, which is vital in fighting off cancer and treating a broad range of diseases.
“Genetic medicine is at a tipping point,” said Tune CEO Matt Kane. “We now understand that the driving force of human health and disease is not our genes, but the epigenomic elements that shape and control them. Until now, scientists and bioengineers lacked the combined understanding, clinical expertise, and technology needed to make epigenomic therapies a practical reality. Now, we have all three.”
“The exciting challenge in front of us is taking these transformative advances in technology and extending their potential for our greater society,” added Charlie Gersbach, Ph.D., Tune co-founder and acting chief scientific officer. “From proof of concept in rare, single-gene disorders to common conditions that aren't linked to a single gene mutation – but are treatable through epigenomic control and constitute the vast majority of human diseases.”
Tune now has $40 million in financing to help it traverse this new frontier, courtesy of top-tier investors co-led by New Enterprise Associates and Emerson Collective. Other investors joining in this round include Mission BioCapital and Hatteras Venture Partners.
“Tune is effectively pioneering a brand-new therapeutic modality. With the unbound potential of this approach, and their collective successes in the field, Tune is primed to become a transformative presence in modern biomedicine,” said Dr. Ali Behbahani, M.D., general partner at New Enterprise Associates and a Tune board member.
Tune will use the funding to advance its preclinical research, attract top-level talent and further build out its therapeutic platform.