Beam Therapeutics launched to develop base editing tech

UK’s gene therapy industry hailed
Credit: Sergey Nivens

Beam Therapeutics has secured a worldwide license from Harvard University to develop and commercialise a suite of revolutionary DNA base editing technologies for the treatment of human disease.

The company has launched having secured $87 million in Series A financing led by F-Prime Capital Partners and ARCH Venture Partners.

The versatile platform of base editing technologies was invented by David R. Liu, Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology, and visionary postdoctoral fellows and graduate students in his Harvard laboratory.

“We developed programmable molecular machines that go to a target site of our choosing in the genomic DNA of a cell and directly convert one base to another base without making a double-stranded break in the DNA,” said Liu, who is a cofounder of Beam.

The licensed technology platform, which includes access to base editing technologies and associated technologies that enhance the targeting scope of base editing, opens up a wide range of human genetic conditions to the therapeutic promise of genome editing.

“Base editing represents a powerful platform for addressing a large class of genetic diseases that are more difficult to tackle with other methods of genome editing,” said Vivian Berlin, Director of Business Development in Harvard’s Office of Technology Development (OTD).

“Genome-editing and base editing technologies exemplify the continuous, vital contributions of Harvard’s researchers to biomedical innovation, and the opportunities such advances create for economic development and societal benefit,” said Isaac T. Kohlberg, Senior Associate Provost and Chief Technology Development Officer at Harvard.

“The opportunity here is not only to tackle disease but perhaps to fundamentally change the practice of medicine.”