This California Based Startup Is Using The Power Of Metagenomics And Machine Learning To Discover Novel Genome Editing Systems

Metagenomi is a California-based startup that employs the power of metagenomics and couples it with machine learning to develop novel genome editing systems. The organization uses metagenomics to find 4 billion years’ worth of microbial evolution. The company has the potential to improve upon the already existing gene-editing steps and magnify them for a better reach and outcome. Recently, Metagenomi raised a whopping $75 million in the Series A funding round, which takes the total capital raised to around $101 million. The funds collected will be utilized to expand the team and develop the company’s therapeutic pipeline.

This gene-editing startup was launched in the year 2018 by Brain C. Thomas and Jillian Banfield, both of whom served as metagenomics researchers at UC Berkeley. The primary aim of forming this company was to bring in a paradigm shift in the entire landscape of cell and gene therapies, making them better suited and more advanced. Metagenomi claims that it has the ability to precisely edit the genomes via single base changes, knockouts, or even integrations that provide it an edge over the already existing gene-editing technologies available in the market.

The four billion years’ worth of microbial evolution helps Metagenomi rapidly identify and characterize the novel nucleases. Then, the next step involves editing the natural gene enzymes using an advanced AI based gene editing algorithm. Furthermore, data-driven protein engineering is also carried out to enhance the therapies. The company works on a suite of CRISPR systems. The organization wants to apply the same in the arena of genetic diseases to tackle the innumerable problems associated with genes.

There already exists a plethora of treatments for genetic diseases. Still, there remains a scope for improvement in the delivery, immunogenicity, and selectivity of those very treatments. Therefore, Metagenomi has claimed to form a system that effectively overcomes all these significant roadblocks. Metagenomi goes through extensive screening of thousands of microorganism genomes by using computational algorithms for preparing the treatments. This ensures an entire suite of gene editing systems and a toolbox that performs better than the first-generation technologies.

The technology of Metagenomi claims to provide the following:

  • Reconstruct microbial genomes from environmental DNA
  • Allow AI-enabled discovery of new gene-editing systems
  • Provide high-throughput characterization and development
  • Empower the development of a new therapeutic pipeline

The CRISPR/Cas9 provides an excellent specificity for the gene-editing, but some disparities have also been seen. The problem with such disparities and off-target editing is that it can cause genome instability and disrupt the genes’ normal functioning. Therefore, it becomes of utmost significance to have a model that provides 100% efficacy.

Metagenomi is looking to bridge the gap present, and other models such as the CRISPR/Cpf1 have also been looked at, but a lot of work is still required to be done to reach the level of perfection. Currently, the company is looking towards the opportunities provided by the Vivo and ex vivo therapies. If successful, this could give a much-needed push for the cell and gene treatments.

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Amreen Bawa is a consulting intern at MarktechPost. Along with pursuing BA Hons in Social Sciences from Panjab University, Chandigarh, she is also a keen learner and writer, having special interest in the application and scope of artificial intelligence in various facets of life.

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