The progress of cell and gene therapies based on genome editing technologies, such as CRISPR-Cas9, requires stringent pre-clinical assessments of off-target editing events. This is where, Cambridge-based Broken String Biosciences, a genomics company comes into the picture. It is building a technology platform to drive the development of cell and gene therapies that are safer by design.
Eyes to open a US office
Now, Broken String Biosciences has picked up $15 million in Series A funding. The investment round was co-led by Illumina Ventures, which recently backed Lightcast Discovery and Mérieux Equity Partners, with contributions from HERAN Partners, and existing investors Tencent and Dieter von Holtzbrinck Ventures (DvH Ventures).
The fresh funds will be used to develop Broken String’s Next Generation Sequencing (NGS)-based DNA break mapping platform, INDUCE-seq, into a scalable ‘Platform as a Service’ (PaaS) offering and to expand its capabilities beyond gene editing, broadening its go-to-market strategy and driving commercial traction.
Furthermore, the investment also supports the company’s ongoing growth, including recruitment for its UK team based at the Wellcome Genome Campus, Cambridge, and the establishment of a US office.
Felix Dobbs, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of Broken String Biosciences, commented: “The support Broken String has received from leading life science and genomics investors demonstrates the potential of our technology and its ability to deliver on the therapeutic promise of gene editing.”
Raf Roelands, Investment Director at HERAN Partners, added: “Broken String Biosciences’ INDUCE-seq technology platform is a game-changing innovation for the characterisation of off-target genome breaks. The team has made impressive progress since its seed funding round in 2021, successfully demonstrating that the platform addresses the market’s needs and generates repeat revenues across a portfolio of partners. This new funding will enable the technology to be developed and delivered in a format that meets the needs of all customers, ideally positioning the Company for significant growth.”
Appoints new Board of Directors
As part of the round, Yoann Bonnamour, Mérieux Equity Partners, and Arnaud Autret, Illumina Ventures, join the company’s Board of Directors.
Yoann Bonnamour, Investment Manager at Mérieux Equity Partners, commented: “The gene therapy market, and the essential off-target assessment technology alongside it, is a rapidly growing opportunity. Broken String Biosciences’ team has the technical expertise and resources, paired with its strong connection with a world-leading genomics research institute, to drive this platform forward and transform the way gene editing programs are designed and developed.”
Arnaud Autret, PhD, Principal at Illumina Ventures, said: “The clinical progression of cell and gene therapies is held back by off-target safety concerns – we recognise the power of Broken String Biosciences’ technology to drive advances in safer genome editing, genome biology and genetic toxicology, and optimise drug development programs. The platform has the potential to become the gold-standard solution for measuring off-target gene editing.”
Unlocks next wave of cell & gene therapies
Broken String Biosciences was spun out of Cardiff University in 2020 by Felix Dobbs, Simon Reed, Simon Kerr, and Patrick van Eijk. Its technology platform accelerates the characterisation of novel genome editing technologies with the aim to unlock the next wave of cell and gene therapies. It works with the vision to make cell and gene therapies safer, more efficient, and affordable for patients.
Its therapies are based on genome editing technologies, such as CRISPR-Cas9, which requires stringent pre-clinical assessments of off-target editing events. INDUCE-seq enables researchers to assess the specificity of genome editing tools and evaluate the associated off-target genetic outcomes. It provides data-driven, actionable insights across the discovery, pre-clinical and clinical development stages to unlock new therapeutic targets within the genome and to advance gene editing programs.