ExpressionEdits emerges with $13m to transform genetic medicine

Company’s AI-powered ‘intronization’ technology enhances protein expression and may help unlock new therapeutics for age-related diseases.

British biotech startup ExpressionEdits has raised $13 million in a seed funding round to support its mission to aims to revolutionize genetic medicine. Founded in 2021 by Dr Kärt Tomberg, Professor Allan Bradley and Dr Liliana Antunes, the Cambridge-based company leverages an AI-powered platform that integrates millions of biological data points with machine learning algorithms to automate the optimization of gene design.

ExpressionEdits’ proprietary intronization technology, developed from research at the University of Cambridge, enhances gene expression by incorporating short noncoding DNA sequences, known as introns, into artificial genes. Introns, once considered “junk DNA” are now recognized as pivotal regulators of gene expression, and ExpressionEdits says its approach has demonstrated significant improvements in gene expression, leading to better protein production and potentially better protein-based therapies.

“At ExpressionEdits, we’re revolutionizing gene expression by putting introns back where they belong, resulting in significant improvements in production,” said ExpressionEdits CEO Tomberg. “Our platform empowers precise decisions on which introns to use, where to place them, and how many, unlocking unprecedented levels of protein expression.”

Dr Kärt Tomberg is CEO of ExpressionEdits.

Many chronic age-related diseases are today treated using protein therapeutics, a classic example being erythropoietin (EPO) that has been used for treating anemia in chronic kidney disease or drugs like insulin, Wegovy and Ozempic, which are used for the management of diabetes. 

“Intronization could potentially unlock novel therapeutic drugs in the aging space with potential applications from arthritis/inflammation to regeneration,” Tomberg told us. “We haven’t disclosed specific indications yet, but chronic-age related diseases are a possibility.”

ExpressionEdits’ platform is designed to help improve the effectiveness and precision of gene therapies, allowing for lower doses to achieve therapeutic levels, thereby minimizing toxicity. It allows the company to predict and prioritize key properties of genes, facilitating the production of previously difficult-to-manufacture therapeutic proteins. The platform also expands the capabilities of ExpressionEdits’ “genetic toolbox,” allowing the company to better target specific tissues and increase protein expression levels.

The seed round was co-led by Octopus Ventures and redalpine, with participation from BlueYard Ventures, Wilbe Capital, Acequia Capital, Amino Collective and Hawktail.

“ExpressionEdits unravels the significance and the opportunities of introns, which were once relegated to the dark matter of the human genome,” said redalpine’s Michael Sidler. “Their proprietary intronization technology unlocks the capacity to express highly complex molecules previously deemed unattainable, while regulating them with precision.”

The company says the newly acquired funds will be used to accelerate the selection of candidates for preclinical studies and to develop a pipeline of protein-based therapeutics. The primary focus will be on recombinant proteins that have traditionally encountered production and manufacturing challenges.

“We believe that the ExpressionEdits platform can become the fabric for any protein expression system, from antibody manufacturing to in vivo therapeutics,” said Octopus Ventures’ Dr Hugo Villanueva.

Photographs courtesy of ExpressionEdits