New biotechnology startup Moonwalk Biosciences has launched with the completion of $57 million in seed and series A financing to advance its epigenetic profiling and engineering technology platform and therapeutics for a range of conditions.
The financing round was led by Alpha Wave Ventures, with ARCH Venture Partners, Future Ventures, GV, Khosla Ventures, and YK Bioventures also participating.
Moonwalk Biosciences was co-founded by Feng Zhang, PhD; Arash Jamshidi, PhD; Justin Valley, PhD; and Dr. Alex Aravanis, PhD. Aravanis is the former chief technology officer of Illumina and Grail and Moonwalk’s CEO.
Moonwalk’s mission is “to develop effective, safe, and durable epigenetic medicines that leverage the most comprehensive insights on cellular epigenetics to date across a variety of indications,” the company said in a statement.
“Epigenetics is the software of the genome. While changes to the genome are irreversible, edits to the epigenome can be reprogrammed in different ways. Epigenetic changes determine whether genes are turned on or off, and can potentially reverse disease, broadening the therapeutic landscape to find potential cures previously thought impossible,” Aravanis said.
Moonwalk’s technology makes edits in the epigenome without altering the DNA sequence itself. Existing methods of gene editing involve altering DNA through cutting or making small breaks, which can cause unpredictable repair processes and off-target effects. Moonwalk’s epigenomic approach, which uses artificial intelligence in the prediction of targets, was designed to minimize the risks inherent in gene editing and leave the primary DNA sequence intact.