RARE Daily

Ensoma Raises $85 Million and Acquires CRISPR Engineering Biotech Twelve Bio

January 6, 2023

Genomic medicines biotech Ensoma closed an $85 million series B financing and entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Danish biotech Twelve Bio, a gene editing company pioneering the therapeutic application of next-generation CRISPR-Cas technology.

Photo: Emile Nuwaysir, president and CEO of Ensoma

Proceeds from the financing will enable Ensoma to advance the development of its Engenious in vivo engineered cell therapy platform and accelerate its pipeline of genomic medicines for immuno-oncology and other therapeutic applications.

Ensoma’s Engenious vectors platform is designed to deliver a diverse range of genome modification technologies—including those that require a high level of packaging capacity—directly to hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) or the various cell types that arise from these cells, such as T cells, B cells and myeloid cells. The company’s vectors are optimized to work without the need for stem cell collection or prior myeloablative conditioning. As a result, Ensoma can design its therapies to be delivered via single injection in diverse environments, including outpatient and areas where access to sophisticated healthcare systems may be limited.

“Ensoma’s platform will enable the next generation of smart immune cell medicines to address complex diseases,” said Emile Nuwaysir, president and CEO of Ensoma. “In addition, Ensoma now has the capital, expertise and committed partners necessary to bring our breakthrough medicines to the clinic.”

Twelve Bio has advanced foundational insights from X-ray crystallography and cryogenic electron microscopy to further engineer and evolve CRISPR-Cas12a into wholly novel sequences with unique properties useful for a range of DNA editing strategies. This engineering builds on the natural advantages of Cas12a, including small size, high specificity, multiplexing and ability to target sections of DNA not amenable to other Cas nucleases. The company says the addition of Twelve Bio will position it to advance the field of genome engineering, develop the next generation of genome editors with gene-writing capabilities, and create a new class of smart immune cell medicines targeting rare and prevalent disease.

Stella, currently director and chief technology officer of Twelve Bio, will join the leadership team at Ensoma as vice president of gene editing. He brings significant expertise in gene editing, structural biology, protein engineering and nucleic acid/protein interactions, ranging from ribosomes to TALENs and meganucleases to CRISPR systems. Montoya, a leading researcher in the field of macromolecular machines involved in cell division, genome maintenance and genome editing, will join Ensoma’s scientific advisory board. Shengdar Tsai, a leading expert in genome engineering and hematology and member of the scientific advisory board of Twelve Bio, will also join the scientific advisory board at Ensoma.

Arix Bioscience and 5AM Ventures co-led the financing, with participation from existing investors in the 5AM Ventures, F-Prime Capital, Cormorant Asset Management, Viking Global Investors, Takeda Ventures, SymBiosis, Alexandria Venture Investments, and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center, and new investors Arix Bioscience, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Qatar Investment Authority, Catalio Capital Management, Solasta Ventures, and Mirae Asset.

In connection with the financing, Mark Chin, managing director at Arix Bioscience and director of Twelve Bio, will join Ensoma’s board of directors.

Author: Rare Daily Staff

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