January 30, 2020 / 5:00 PM / 19 days ago

Mammoth Biosciences raises $45 mln to fund push into CRISPR-based therapies

Jan 30 (Reuters) - California-based biotech startup Mammoth Biosciences said on Thursday it had raised $45 million in a series B funding round as it looks to expand the use of its CRISPR-based technology from diagnostics to developing new therapies.

CRISPR technology typically refers to gene editing tools - with CRISPR/Cas9 as the most prominent example - which work as a kind of molecular scissor to trim away unwanted pieces of genetic material and replace them with new ones.

“While it’s not wrong to think of CRISPR as a pair of scissors, I think it’s incomplete,” company co-founder Trevor Martin said.

“CRISPR is a programmable way of getting the protein where you want it on the DNA. It’s more like a search engine.”

Mammoth, which was co-founded by early gene editing pioneer Jennifer Doudna, was the first to develop a CRISPR platform as a disease detection system.

The company also uses its platform to discover new proteins and, with the funding, hopes to push those into clinical trials.

Mammoth is initially focusing on collaborations to advance its experimental therapies, as opposed to developing the proteins into a viable therapy on its own.

“Long term, that’s a kind of obvious direction for Mammoth to go. But I think right now we’re focused on walking before we run, and we’re very interested in doing collaborations with experienced partners in this space,” Martin told Reuters.

The funding round, led by Decheng Capital, includes Alphabet Inc’s life sciences division Verily as a new investor.

With the new round, the company has now raised over $70 million in funding.

Reporting by Manas Mishra in Bengaluru; Editing by Krishna Chandra Eluri

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