Encoded Nabs $104M & Illumina’s Help to Push Gene Therapy’s Limits


Despite the progress of gene therapy—a cutting edge medicine promising long-lasting effects from a single treatment—it remains a crude and limited tool. Startup Encoded Therapeutics has raised $104 million to join the race to expand gene therapy’s reach.

The South San Francisco, CA, company has emerged from the startup accelerator of Illumina (NASDAQ: ILMN), and it counts the DNA sequencing giant among its investors along with Arch Venture Partners, Venrock, and others. The $104 million haul it closed today brings its total funding to $158 million and will back human tests of a gene therapy for a rare form of epilepsy called Dravet syndrome.

The Dravet program is meant to show that Encoded, using an atypical approach that harnesses DNA sequencing and computing tools, can get to diseases that gene therapy currently can’t touch. Its proof so far is only in animal tests. Human studies of the Dravet program should begin by early 2021, says CEO Kartik Ramamoorthi.

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