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Wednesday, June 7, 2023

Danish startup with CRISPR diagnostic technology is acquired by Boston-based genomic medicines company

Copenhagen-based next-gen CRISPR engineering startup Twelve Bio announces that it’s been acquired by US-born Ensoma and the two together completed a Series B financing of $85 million co-led by Arix Bioscience and 5AM Ventures. The round saw participation from existing investors including F-Prime Capital, Cormorant Asset Management, Viking Global Investors, Takeda Ventures Inc., SymBiosis, Alexandria Venture Investments and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center alongside new investors including Arix Bioscience, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Qatar Investment Authority (QIA), Catalio Capital Management, Solasta Ventures and Mirae Asset. From Twelve Bio, Stefano Stella, Ph.D. will be vice president of gene editing at Ensoma while Guillermo Montoya, Ph.D and Dr Shengdar Q. Tsai are joining the company’s scientific advisory board. Mark Chin will also be on Ensoma’s board of directors.

Twelve Bio ApS is a gene editing company pioneering the therapeutic application of next-generation CRISPR-Cas technology. Ensoma is a genomic medicines company developing one-time in vivo treatments that precisely engineer any cell of the hematopoietic system. Proceeds will enable Ensoma to advance the development of its Engenious™ in vivo engineered cell therapy platform and accelerate its pipeline of genomic medicines for immuno-oncology and other therapeutic applications.

“Ensoma’s platform will enable the next generation of smart immune cell medicines to address complex diseases. With these expanded capabilities, we can precisely engineer, in vivo, the hematopoietic stem cell with DNA edits as small as one base pair or as large as 35 kilobase insertions, with just a single intravenous administration. That combined capability and the multiplexing opportunities it enables are unprecedented and position Engenious as a best-in-class engineered cell therapy platform,” said Emile Nuwaysir, Ph.D., president and chief executive officer of Ensoma. “In addition, Ensoma now has the capital, expertise and committed partners necessary to bring our breakthrough medicines to the clinic. We look forward to welcoming the Twelve Bio team and their world-class expertise to Ensoma and are immensely grateful to new and existing investors for their support of Ensoma’s mission to democratize genomic medicines.”

Twelve Bio was co-founded in 2019 by Stefano Stella, Ph.D., and Guillermo Montoya, Ph.D., based on research conducted at the Novo Nordisk Foundation (NNF) Center for Protein Research at the University of Copenhagen. With support from the Creation House program sponsored by the BioInnovation Institute in Copenhagen and seed investment from Arix Bioscience, Twelve Bio has advanced foundational insights from X-ray crystallography and cryogenic electron microscopy to further engineer and evolve CRISPR-Cas12a into wholly novel sequences with unique properties useful for a range of DNA editing strategies.

This engineering builds on the natural advantages of Cas12a, including small size, high specificity, multiplexing and ability to target sections of DNA not amenable to other Cas nucleases. With the addition of this world-class science to the existing Ensoma platform, the company will be well-positioned to advance the field of genome engineering, develop the next generation of genome editors with gene-writing capabilities and create a new class of smart immune cell medicines targeting rare and prevalent disease.

In connection with the financing, Mark Chin, managing director at Arix Bioscience and director of Twelve Bio, will join Ensoma’s board of directors.

Mr. Chin said, “With a single outpatient treatment, Ensoma’s Engenious platform empowers patients’ own cells to cure disease. This opens new diseases and geographies to the power of in vivo genomic medicines, dramatically simplifies the logistics of treatment and will eliminate much of the burden of treatment on the healthcare system and the patient. We are excited to partner with the Ensoma team to be a part of this next chapter.”

Dr. Stella, currently director and chief technology officer of Twelve Bio, will join the leadership team at Ensoma as vice president of gene editing. He brings significant expertise in gene editing, structural biology, protein engineering and nucleic acid/protein interactions, ranging from ribosomes to TALENs and meganucleases to CRISPR systems. Professor Montoya, a leading researcher in the field of macromolecular machines involved in cell division, genome maintenance and genome editing, will join Ensoma’s scientific advisory board. Dr Shengdar Q. Tsai, a leading expert in genome engineering and hematology and member of the scientific advisory board of Twelve Bio, will also join the scientific advisory board at Ensoma.

Dr. Stella said, “The development of groundbreaking genetic medicines to cure complex diseases and reach the largest population of patients is a challenge. At Twelve Bio, we have developed innovative gene editing tools that can correct sequences linked to genetic disorders, and Ensoma is a world-leading company for in vivo delivery to hemopoietic stem cells. I am very excited about working together, and I am confident we will be able to bring forward innovative single-dose medicines to cure life-threatening diseases.”

Closing of the acquisition of Twelve Bio is subject to the satisfaction of customary closing conditions, including clearance by the Danish Business Authority pursuant to Danish foreign direct investment laws.

Click here to read more M&A news.

Nurcin Metingil
Nurcin Metingil
A permanent student, a passionate first reader and nowadays doing master’s degree in Publishing Management. Beside these, I am up for games! I have been playing games since I was 6. Now, I am whispering "Business. Business. Numbers. Is this working?"

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