Chroma bags another 9-digit financing, taking $135M series B to bolster epigenetic-focused platform

A more cautious financing market is evidently no barrier for Chroma Medicine and its epigenetic-focused tech, with the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based biotech bagging $135 million in series B funds to build out its platform.

The new fundraising haul, announced Wednesday, was led by GV (formerly Google Ventures) and includes other big players in the biopharma investment space such as Arch Venture Partners and Sixth Street. Previous investors such as Sofinnova, Atlas Venture and Omega Funds also contributed to the round. 

The size of the fundraising is particularly notable amid creeping trepidation across private financing after months of persistence even as the public markets struggled. A report by Silicon Valley Bank noted that the last quarter of 2022 saw the lowest number of series B deals in the U.S., EU or U.K. for at least the last three years. Chroma marks the seventh company so far in 2023 to close a nine-digit round, according to the Fierce Biotech Financing Tracker

It also bucked a 2022 trend of receding investment in platform companies, with Issi Rozen, venture partner at GV, saying that his firm's strategy has not changed.

“If we see a very promising platform that we believe will create value for patients and important products, we’ll invest in it,” he said. “And we continue to see really interesting, novel platform plays that could be transformative, and we're real excited about them.” 

At the center of the excitement is Chroma's single-dose, epigenetic-editing ambitions, looking to regulate gene expression without changing the genetic code itself. The company says its platform has the ability to “durably silence, activate and multiplex genes.” Compared to gene editing companies that actually add or subtract genes from the genome, Chroma believes the lack of concern regarding off-target edits could be both a regulatory and a safety boost. 

“As you start thinking about where this ultimately differentiates, I think that multiplexing component is going to be really important [to] the strategy for epigenetic editing long-term,” said Chief Scientific Officer Vic Myer, Ph.D. 

It's clearly been a lucrative sales pitch, with the company now raking in two rounds each north of $100 million. Chroma launched in November 2021 with $125 million, which executives said at the time would fund more preclinical research and expand manufacturing capabilities. 

However, they remain coy about what exactly they’re up to, teasing 2023 as a critical year for unveiling preclinical data. The company has accrued both lab and mice data and plans to transition quickly to nonhuman primates. CEO Catherine Stehman-Breen, M.D., would only reveal that Chroma has kicked off “several programs” and is working toward human trials as quickly as possible. 

“The nonhuman primate data will be very informative to us in terms of really nailing down what our timelines are for getting into the clinic,” said Stehman-Breen. She emphasized that Chroma is not a “target discovery company” and is laser-focused on producing human data.

Chroma doesn’t need to “do something immediately” with respect to nailing down partnerships, the CEO added. But she noted they remain part of a larger guidance the company has established, centered on how to grow the technology and get it to patients as quickly as possible.