Synthego Raises $110M in Bid to Scale CRISPR Tech

The genomic engineering company is advancing precision medicine with support from Silicon Valley heavyweights.

Banking on its CRISPR products, Synthego received funding from top-notch investors like Peter Thiel.

Synthego raised $110 million in funding from major tech players, boosting both the genomic engineering company and the likelihood that CRISPR will have real-world, scalable effects in healthcare.

Synthego announced the Series C funding today, bringing its total backing to $160 million. Silicon Valley maven Peter Thiel’s Founders Fund led the round, with investments from 8VC, Menlo Ventures and existing backers.

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“CRISPR may prove to be the most important scientific breakthrough of the last decade, but we must develop valuable, non-obvious applications to fulfill its potential,” Thiel said in a statement. “Synthego’s platform is already enabling new genomic research and pharmaceutical development and will ultimately unlock the full potential of genome engineering.”

Innovators and researchers have long explored CRISPR and similar gene-editing technologies. (To brush up on the history of CRISPR, check out this episode of our podcast, Data Book.) Clinical trials for a number of such treatments are underway or have been completed, and certain approaches, like some CAR T-cell therapies, have entered the clinic.

Any or all of these innovations could bring precision medicine — which many in healthcare consider a “Holy Grail” — to the forefront of healthcare. But as Synthego noted, access to gene editing remains restricted, given its high price and technical complexity.

“The headlines around genome editing make it sound simple, but the reality is that bringing laboratory discoveries to humans is a complex process requiring specialized expertise, reagents and commitment,” said Matthew Porteus, M.D., Ph.D., a co-founder of CRISPR Therapeutics who recently joined Synthego’s board.

Investors like Synthego’s chances in this market for several reasons.

The company builds technological capabilities that support research and development and the validation of new therapeutics. It boasts a full-stack genome engineering platform — built on machine learning, bioinformatics and automation — that it said will help scale CRISPR products. And then there are Synthego’s research tools designed to streamline the work of investigators, which could bolster the entire gene-editing field.

“This new funding allows us to expand our reach and built out our full-stack platform capabilities at a perfect time,” Synthego CEO and co-founder Paul Dabrowski said in a statement. “Biological medicines are on the cusp of a revolution with the coming curative cell and gene therapies, and we are proud to support this industry.”

Specifically, the company intends to expand markets for its Engineered Cells and CRISPRevolution line.

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