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Epic Launches with $55 Million in Backing to Edit the Epigenome

July 13, 2022

Horizons Ventures and other leading investors around the globe provided the funding for Epic. The company was founded by Stanley Qi, a bioengineer and named co-inventor on the CRISPR patent held by the University of California.

Photo: Stanley Qi, founder of Epic Bio

Epic said it has developed the GEMS (Gene Expression Modulation System) platform to precisely modify gene expression. GEMS includes the largest known library of novel modulators combined with advanced functional and computational genomics capabilities to rapidly design guide RNAs that are highly specific to the targeted genes.

The company additionally launches with an exclusive license from Stanford University to the ultracompact DNA-binding protein CasMINI for human use. CasMINI is the smallest Cas protein created to date, developed in the lab of Qi. It is less than half the size of Cas9 and Cas12a and is engineered to function robustly in mammalian cells. The small size of CasMINI enables delivery of Epic’s therapeutic candidates in vivo via a single AAV vector to a wide range of target organs.

Amber Salzman, a biotechnology executive with more than 30 years of experience in the pharmaceuticals industry, serves as CEO of Epic.

The Series A will support Epic’s preclinical programs in five initial indications that are insufficiently addressed by today’s genetic medicines — Facioscapulohumeral Muscular Dystrophy (FSHD)​, Heterozygous Familial Hypercholesterolemia (HeFH)​, Alpha-1 Antitrypsin Deficiency (A1AD)​, Retinitis Pigmentosa 4 (RP4)​, and Retinitis Pigmentosa 11 (RP11)​ — as well as the ongoing development of the company’s platform and discovery efforts.

“Our vision at Epic Bio is nothing short of transformative: To create a new class of genetic medicines that can treat diseases for which there’s no effective treatment today. We have a unique platform that enables in vivo delivery of our compact gene modulation components using AAV vectors that have already been de-risked in the clinic,” said Salzman. “Our lead program in FSHD has a clear line of sight to clinical entry next year, and other programs are close behind. We are excited to realize the sweeping impact epigenetic engineering could have on the standard of care for many serious diseases.”

Epic is also engaging with academic and industry partners to increase access to epigenetic engineering and ensure that the vast therapeutic potential of the GEMS platform can be explored for the benefit of patients with a wide range of conditions.

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