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Gene editing firm Locus Biosciences adds another $7M to its 2020 cash haul

MORRISVILLE – Gene editing startup Locus Biosciences has landed another $7 million in new cash, adding to a year that has brought commitments of nearly $100 million.

According to a securities filing, Locus has completed raising the $20 million in debt offering launched back in the summer.

The funding is all debt and comes from 34 investors.

Locus also recenly secured  $77 million shot in the arm to develop its new antibacterial therapy to treat E. coli bacteria-causing recurrent urinary tract infections (UTIs).

Locus said it has signed a contract with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to co-fund the development of LBP-EC01. It’s a CRISPR Cas3-enhanced bacteriophage product.

BARDA is a unit of  the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. It will provide up to about half of the $144 million needed to support Phase 2 and Phase 3 clinical trials and other activities required for U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval. BARDA also brings a lot of antibacterial product experience to the table.

Locus will control the development and commercialization of LBP-EC01.

Close to 150 million people worldwide suffer from UTIs each year, with about 80% of those infections caused by E. coli. That includes difficult-to-treat strains that are resistant to commonly used antibiotics.

CRISPR – the acronym for Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats – is a naturally occurring immune system that bacteria use to fight infection.

In recent years, scientists have adopted one form of CRISPR – Cas9 – to edit DNA at specific places in the genome. Locus’s introduction of CRISPR-Cas3 is important because, unlike Cas9, it shreds the target DNA, leading to cell death. That helps destroy residual bacteria that could otherwise survive infection by the bacteriophage.

The beauty of the Locus technology is twofold. It’s a powerful tool to fight infections. Yet it’s believed to be safe for healthy cells because a phage only binds to and kills specific germs.

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center contributed to this report. 

Original Article Source: WRAL TechWire