eGenesis Raises $38M in Series A Funding
eGenesis, a spinout from Professor George Church’s lab at Harvard University, has raised $38M (£31M) in Series A funding. The start-up is aimed at using the genome engineering tool CRISPR-Cas9 to enable cross-species organ transplantation into humans.
The company was launched in 2015, with the intention of developing CRISPR-edited pig embryos to have human-compatible organs. There are an estimated 75,000 people currently on waiting lists for organ transplants in the USA alone, meaning that the demand for more compatible organs is very high. If eGenesis are successful, they should be able to cut this demand significantly.
One of the biggest challenges they face is successfully removing porcine endogenous retroviruses (PERVs), which allow human recipients to identify the organs as foreign and causes the immune system to reject them. The company intends to use CRISPR-Cas9 to silence or remove the genes responsible for PERVs to eliminate their expression within the organs. In October 2015, Luhan Yang, Cofounder of eGenesis, and her team within the Church lab published a paper in Science that displayed CRISPR being used to remove the PERVs from a pig kidney cell line.
“The concept of xenotransplantation has been explored for decades as a potential answer to the scarcity of human organs and tissue,” said Boris Nikolic, Managing Director of Biomatics Capital. “eGenesis brings together the most advanced genetic science with a world-leading team of scientists to fulfil an urgent medical need.”
This round of funding was led by Biomatics Capital and Arch Venture Partners. Khosla Ventures, Alta Partners, Alexandria Equities, Heritage Provider Network, Berggruen Holdings North America, Uprising, and Fan Ventures also contributed.