Beijing-based Edigene raises $67 million to develop gene-editing therapies

Business & Technology

A company that develops gene therapies targeting cancers and congenital disorders is one of many Chinese biotech and pharma startups that are attracting large investments.

Edigene’s “scientific founder” Wèi Wénshèng 魏文胜. Image source: Peking University.

Edigene is a Beijing-based company that “develops genome editing technologies to accelerate drug discovery and develop novel therapeutics for a broad range of diseases,” including cancers.

This week, the company announced that it had raised 450 million yuan ($67 million) from 3H Health Investment, Sequoia Capital China, IDG Capital, and several other investors.

  • Edigene was founded in 2015. Previous financing rounds have raised $100 million.
  • The company has a business development office in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and a facility for clinical trials in Guangzhou.

CEO Wèi Dōng 魏东 says in the statement: “The round enables us to further scale up and transform our pipeline into clinical-stage.”

  • Wei’s résumé includes “over 20 years of experience in drug development and management, including leading over 10 global clinical-stage programs in multiple therapeutic areas at BioMarin, Elan, Johnson & Johnson and Shire.”

The company’s “scientific founder” is Wèi Wénshèng 魏文胜 (it’s not clear if he is related to the CEO). He is a professor at the School of Life Sciences, Peking University.

  • Wei is often quoted in defense of gene-editing technologies: “Don’t give up food because you fear choking: Gene editing has huge therapeutic prospects” is one typical citation. “There should be no taboos in science as long as you are responsible to the future” is another (both links in Chinese).

Risks to the company: After the 2018 scandal in which researcher Hè Jiànkuí 贺建奎 claimed “that his lab had created the world’s first humans from gene-edited embryos,” Wei was “concerned that the international condemnation that followed He‘s explosive announcement …might have a wider chilling effect [and make it] difficult to get approval to use gene editing tools in clinical trials, including using the tool to edit adult cells, which does not raise the same ethical questions as work in embryos,” according to Nature.

See also: Chinese drug startup Hinova raises 1 billion yuan to target prostate cancer and gout.

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