Function Oncology Launches with $28 Million to Advance CRISPR-powered Personalized Functional Genomics Platform

April 12, 2023

Rare Daily Staff

Function Oncology, a precision medicine company advancing a CRISPR-powered personalized functional genomics platform to transform the future of targeted cancer treatment, launched with $28 million in series A financing.

Section 32 and a16z led the financing, with participation from Casdin Capital and Alexandria Venture Investments.

Function Oncology is leveraging a new CRISPR-enabled platform to profile and understand cancer in unprecedented and patient-specific detail. By moving beyond traditional gene sequencing to measuring gene function, the company aims to identify optimal therapeutic opportunities for cancer patients and advance the next generation of targeted cancer treatments.

“Conventional next-generation sequencing approaches have marked a revolution in cancer diagnostics and treatment, but time has proven that this is only effective for a small subset of drugs and targets, leaving the majority of patients without meaningful therapeutic options,” said Srinath Sampath, co-founder and CEO of Function Oncology. “We believe that the next level of precision oncology will be to move beyond gene sequence, to gene function. Our CRISPR-powered personalized functional genomics platform allows, for the first time, efficient, scalable, and individualized assessment of drug target vulnerabilities directly in patient tumor samples. Moving towards ground state truth on target dependence allows precision medicine beyond what sequencing can access. It also allows us to identify the non-mutated “hidden” drug targets to power the next wave of transformative drug development.”

Function Oncology’s functional genomics platform leverages CRISPR-based gene modulation directly in patient clinical samples, enabling personalized, comprehensive profiling of each patients’ tumors to uncover drug target dependencies that cannot be fully identified by conventional genomic profiling. These patient-specific insights may be used to produce tailored treatment strategies and in aggregate will ultimately power the development of new therapies against known or novel cancer drivers.

“This is a powerful new platform that has potential for both diagnostic and therapeutic clinical applications,” said Steve Kafka, managing partner at Section 32. “These applications range from accelerating target identification and validation, to producing unprecedented insights to enroll the right patients in clinical trials, to dramatically expanding the impact of existing drugs and surfacing novel cancer targets for drug development.”

Function Oncology announced separately that it will present data at the 2023 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) annual meeting, taking place from April 14-19. These data provide clinical validation of the company’s CRISPR-based platform in patients with acute myeloid leukemia.

Photo: Srinath Sampath, co-founder and CEO of Function Oncology

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