Mission Bio reels in $30M for single-cell genomics tech for oncology, CRISPR

Since launching at the end of 2017 with a focus on blood cancers, Mission Bio has built out its single-cell genomics platform to include custom offerings. Now, the company is raising $30 million to expand its reach into solid tumors and CRISPR applications. 

South San Francisco-based Mission Bio uses its Tapestri DNA platform to sequence mutations on a single-cell level—it looks at the DNA of every cell in a population of cancer cells, said CEO Charlie Silver. Traditional genomic analysis uses bulk samples of cells and averages gene expression out over those cells and therefore flattens out the genetic profile of a tumor. It can miss certain cells with specific molecular profiles that can drive treatment resistance. 

“What makes us different is we focus on targeted and actionable regions of the genome, which keeps costs down for the customer, but also focuses on the information they need for their work,” he said. 

The series B funding—drawn from Agilent, Cota Capital, LabCorp, LAM Research Capital and Mayfield—will allow Mission Bio to scale its Tapestri platform and extend its reach into Europe and Asia. Its initial products were single-cell DNA panels that detected mutations for a handful of blood cancers, including acute myeloid leukemia and chronic lymphocytic leukemia. It has since offered solid tumor panels and custom panels, tests in which Mission Bio’s customers may “put in any targets they want in a product that’s meaningful for them,” Silver said. 

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Mission Bio is also adding CRISPR to its set of applications. While CRISPR gene-editing holds “enormous potential for making a difference,” it comes with safety concerns, including off-target, or unintended, editing of DNA. 

“As we develop these therapies, it’s important to understand how we’ve made the edits, and also the unintentional alterations that may be edited in,” Silver said. 

Silver envisions multiple uses for Tapestri in CRISPR; one is in the development of CRISPR systems, and the second is for monitoring the activity of CRISPR treatments once they hit the market. Researchers can use it to understand how edits affect each type of cell—"There’s no way to look at that with conventional screening," Silver said—as well as which allele is edited. And healthcare providers down the line could use it to measure editing and understand how CRISPR treatments are working, Silver said. 

Silver did not specify Mission Bio’s growth plans, but did say that most of its new hires from here on out will be on the commercial side as the company expands its market reach.