Biotech startup eGenesis, which is applying gene editing to animal organs in order to make them suitable for human transplant, has raised $100 million to ramp up work on its kidney program and bring it into human testing.
The Series B round of funding was led by the investment arm of Fresenius Medical Care, a German company that provides kidney dialysis services. Cambridge, MA-based eGenesis says that in addition to supporting its kidney program, the new capital will support its other research into xenotransplantation—the transplant of animal organs into humans. The company’s progams include the liver, heart, lung, and the islet cells of the pancreas.
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One of eGenesis’s cofounders is renowned Harvard University geneticist George Church. The startup spun out of Harvard in 2014 and soon afterward reported its work making edits in a pig cell to rid it of native pig retrovirsuses that could harm humans. The company also uses the CRISPR gene editing technology to reduce the chance that a human host will reject a transplanted organ, an obstacle to testing transplant pig organs in humans. (In the above photo, an eGenesis scientist uses a microscope to view cell lines that have been edited with CRISPR technology.)
eGenesis isn’t the only company pursuing xenotransplantion. Lung Biotechnology, a subsidiary of Silver Springs, MD-based United Therapeutics (NASDAQ: UTHR), is focusing on the lungs. According to the 2018 United Therapeutics annual report, the company last year reported that its engineered pig lungs survived for 30 days in an animal study.
Two years ago, eGenesis raised $38 million in Series A funding to support development of its CRISPR approach to xenotransplantation. The financing announced Thursday added new investors Leaps by Bayer and Wellington Partners. Earlier investors including ARCH Venture Partners, Biomatics Capital, Alta Partners, and Khosla Ventures also invested.
Photo by eGenesis