Business

Intellia raises $70 million for gene-editing treatments

A Cambridge biotech firm developing ways to fix defective genes has raised $70 million from investors in its Series B funding round.

Intellia Therapeutics, which has drawn big-name investors such as the drug company Novartis and Fidelity Investments, plans to use the money to speed up its research into gene-editing treatments for liver and blood diseases.

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The company plans to use a technology called CRISPR that was developed at the University of California at Berkeley and will hopefully allow scientists to replace small segments of a cell’s genetic code. The technology is still experimental and has not produced any medical treatments yet.

Nessan Bermingham, the company’s chief executive, said it didn’t have a timeline for when such treatments would be available. First, he said, the company would need to experiment with cell cultures, generate data, and approach regulators to make sure the treatments could be tested safely because of how they differ from standard pharmaceutical products.

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“This is a new therapeutic modality and there’s a very limited precedent there,” Bermingham said. “We want to make sure we’re bringing a safe and effective treatment into the clinic.”

Intellia, which has about 40 employees, is one of several medical startups trying to treat genetic diseases by modifying the DNA of certain cells. Two other Cambridge companies, CRISPR Therapeutics and Editas Medicine, are also developing gene-editing therapies, as are other competitors around the world. Earlier this month, Editas raised $120 million.

The biggest investor in Intellia’s recent funding round was OrbiMed HealthCare Fund Management, a firm with offices in San Francisco and New York, according to its website. Other new investors included Fidelity and Janus Capital Management. The Novartis and Atlas Venture, a Cambridge medical investment firm, also made financial commitments whose value wasn’t disclosed.

Jack Newsham can be reached at jack.newsham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheNewsHam.
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