Omega, eyeing new uses for genome-tuning tech, taps Stanford to find ocular disease targets

Omega Therapeutics is branching out. Having pulled off a $126 million IPO, the epigenomic specialist has teamed up with Stanford University School of Medicine to find eye disease targets to hit with its technology.

Massachusetts-based Omega is focused on tuning the expression of genes by using mRNA-encoded therapeutics to target the control room of biology. The approach has manifested in a liver cancer candidate that Omega plans to take into the clinic next year and explorations of the application of the technology in other therapeutic areas, including corneal regeneration.

Omega is stepping up its eye disease ambitions in collaboration with the ophthalmology department at Stanford. Albert Wu, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of ophthalmology, will serve as principal investigator and receive support from colleagues including Jeffrey Goldberg, M.D., Ph.D., and Michael Kapiloff, M.D., Ph.D. The Stanford team will work with Omega to discover and research novel ocular targets that could be a good fit for future drug development programs. 

So far, Omega’s work on eye diseases has focused on ways to treat corneal epithelial injuries in patients with diabetes and other conditions. By fine-tuning certain genes, Omega thinks it may be able to drive corneal regeneration to treat complications of conditions including diabetes.

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Omega has identified a master regulatory gene linked to cell-growth inhibition in diabetics, setting it up to work to computationally design candidates that could act on the target to treat corneal epithelial injuries. The partnership with Stanford positions Omega to find more ocular targets to fuel its drug discovery activities. 

“Through this research collaboration, we aim to expand the reach of our OMEGA platform within regenerative medicine, immunology, and inflammation with ocular disease targets. We will continue exploration of the broad potential of our disruptive platform and OECs, our new class of mRNA therapeutics as programmable epigenetic medicines,” Omega CEO Mahesh Karande said in a statement.