See the 18-slide pitch deck a genetics startup used to raise $100 million and explore the ‘dark side’ of the genome
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- The genetics startup CAMP4 Therapeutics just raised a $100 million Series B round.
- The company hopes to treat disease by drugging a neglected area of the human genome.
- The Massachusetts biotech aims to start human testing in 2023.
A biotech in Cambridge, Massachusetts, raised $100 million to explore what its leaders call the “dark side” of the genome.
On Wednesday, CAMP4 Therapeutics announced its Series B round, which it said would help it start initial human testing next year. The startup, named after the camp closest to Mount Everest’s summit, was founded in 2016 and is researching a special type of RNA called regulatory RNA.
There are multiple types of RNA. The best-known type is messenger RNA — the basis of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines — which acts as a courier within the cell to carry instructions about how to make proteins from DNA.
Regulatory RNA, or regRNA, is part of the 98% of the human genome sequence that doesn’t make proteins, said David Bumcrot, CAMP4’s chief scientific officer. Instead, these molecules control the expression of the protein-making genes.
Building off research from Rick Young, an MIT researcher who cofounded CAMP4, the company is shining a light on this neglected part of the genome, its leaders said. The company plans to design drugs to bind to regRNA, effectively controlling how much of a protein is made.
Its CEO, Josh Mandel-Brehm, says the company’s platform can be applied to more than 1,000 genetic diseases. The startup hopes to ask regulators in early 2023 to start human testing for its lead drug candidate: a therapy for Dravet syndrome, a rare genetic disorder. Mandel-Brehm said that CAMP4 is also prioritizing partnerships and that early talks are ongoing with Big Pharma.
“Now that this fundraise is in the bank, we are ready to partner and we are absolutely focused on putting at least one major partnership in place,” he said, adding that he hopes to strike a partnership deal in the next six to nine months.