Tome acquires startup Replace, gaining new genome editing tools

Tome Biosciences has acquired biotechnology company Replace Therapeutics in a deal that gives the well-funded startup new tools to edit the genome.

In a deal announced Tuesday, Tome will buy Replace for $65 million in upfront and near-term payouts. The deal could yield up to $185 million in stock and cash for Replace shareholders if certain targets are met, and will turn the startup into a wholly owned subsidiary of Tome.

The buyout comes a month after Tome debuted with $213 million in funding and rights to a gene editing method invented at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Endpoints News first reported the acquisition. 

The startup is the latest in a line of startups aiming to improve upon the landmark gene editing technique, CRISPR. Tome’s approach, dubbed “programmable genomic integration,” or PGI, is meant to address one limitation of that technology. It’s designed to help insert varying sizes of genetic material anywhere in the genome without damaging or breaking DNA, features the company claims could produce more potent or safer cell therapies, or target diseases other genetic medicines can’t.

Tome will add to those capabilities in acquiring Replace. The company has developed a novel PGI method meant to insert or delete small DNA sequences, complementing technology Tome is advancing that’s focused on larger genetic material, the company said.

The acquisition “provides us with the flexibility to choose the right editing tool for the right indication, expanding the types of diseases we have the potential to cure,” CEO Rahul Kakkar said in a statement.

Replace is early in its journey. It was formed in 2022 by University of California, Berkeley scientist Shakked Halperin, the founder of another gene editing startup that one of the field’s largest companies, Intellia Therapeutics, acquired in 2022. Like that startup, Rewrite Therapeutics, Replace was also backed by venture firm Civilization Ventures.

Tome is “well-suited to develop this technology for a multitude of different applications,” Halperin said in a statement.

Tome’s work is also in early stages. The company hasn’t said which diseases it intends to treat.

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