ENHANC3D GENOMICS, a spin out from Institute research, has marked the next stage on its exciting trajectory as it joins an innovation programme targeted at supporting scientific advances that promise more effective treatments for wider patient populations.
The Immunology Innovations QuickFire Challenge, coordinated by Johnson & Johnson Innovation LLC and Janssen Research & Development LLC, recognises transformative technologies providing precision medicine innovations.
ENHANC3D GENOMICS’s mission is to unlock the full potential of the human genome’s 3D organisation for target and biomarker discovery. Their approach focuses on probing the functional 3D structure of the genome, rather than linear DNA sequence, and capturing the complexity of regulatory interactions in play. By mapping the 3D genomic interactions that connect important control elements in the uncharted non-coding regions with their target genes, the approach identifies genes that are causal for disease susceptibility and progression. In addition to identifying new therapeutic targets, understanding the biological relevance of these 3D genomic interactions also means that existing drugs may be repurposed where there are common targets or mechanisms.
Debora Lucarelli, Chief Executive Officer of ENHANC3D GENOMICS, commented: “Our vision is to leverage the 3D genome and state-of-the-art analytics of our platform GenLink3DTM to enable precision medicine breakthroughs. Our 3D genome atlas of different immune and neuronal cell types has the potential to transform target, pathway and patient signature identification.
“This innovative award is validation of our approach and we look forward to expanding our atlas within the network of world-leading scientists, clinicians and selected strategic partners.”
ENHANC3D GENOMICS was spun-out of research from the Institute by Professor Peter Fraser, Dr Mikhail Spivakov and Dr Stefan Schoenfelder exploring how the three-dimensional organisation of the genome controls gene expression over long distances. A patented technique developed as part of this research, called Promoter Capture Hi-C, first created the opportunity to delve into the human genome and create an unprecedented snapshot of the long-range interactions responsible for governing gene expression.
The journey so far
Founded in January 2020, ENHANC3D GENOMICS secured its first round of funding the following month and participated in Cambridge’s Start Codon’s business acceleration programme to support commercial translation of the technique. By March 2021, the company had closed a second round of funding worth £1.5 million backed by Bioqube Ventures, StartCodon and two private investors.
Since launching, the company has developed its proprietary GenLink3DTM platform combining unique high-resolution mapping of DNA interactions in 3D space and advanced computational capabilities that integrate whole genome sequencing and other multi-omics datasets to produce a functional atlas of healthy and disease-specific genetic signatures. These previously uncharted interactions and AI-driven functional genomic insights enables identification of novel pathways, drug targets and biomarkers furthering precision medicine.
From research tool to commercial platform
Dr Simon Cook, Interim Director of the Babraham Institute, commented: “The mission of the Institute is to understand the fundamental biology that underpins human development and health. It’s this essential discovery research that allows us to apply knowledge to improve lifelong health. As an Institute spin-out, ENHANC3D GENOMICS illustrates this discovery and application pipeline perfectly and we’re delighted to see the company’s powerful innovation receive global recognition.”
Participating in the Immunology Innovations QuickFire Challenge, ENHANC3D GENOMICS receives $500,000 in funding and a one-year of residency at JLABS plus access to the global Johnson & Johnson Innovation network.
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About the Babraham Institute
The Babraham Institute undertakes world-class life sciences research to generate new knowledge of biological mechanisms underpinning ageing, development and the maintenance of health. Our research focuses on cellular signalling, gene regulation and the impact of epigenetic regulation at different stages of life. By determining how the body reacts to dietary and environmental stimuli and manages microbial and viral interactions, we aim to improve wellbeing and support healthier ageing. The Institute is strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), part of UK Research and Innovation, through Institute Strategic Programme Grants and an Institute Core Capability Grant and also receives funding from other UK research councils, charitable foundations, the EU and medical charities.
About ENHANC3D GENOMICS:
ENHANC3D GENOMICS (“Enhanc3D”) is a private functional genomics company based in Cambridge, UK which was founded in 2020 out of Professor Peter Fraser’s pioneering 3D genome organisation research laboratory at the Babraham Institute. The Company is developing a technology to unlock the full potential of the three-dimensional organisation of the human genome. This technology focuses on the uncharted non-coding regions that make up 98% of the human genome with the aim to identify disease-associated genetic interactions including those that are causal for disease susceptibility and progression. This unique approach has the potential to revolutionise target and biomarker discovery and make precision medicine an everyday reality for patients.
The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) is part of UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from the UK government.
BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond.
Funded by government, BBSRC invested £451 million in world-class bioscience in 2019-20. We support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.
Research feature, Annual Research Report 2019-2020
This video is an annual summary of our epigenetics research from the lab of Stefan Schoenfelder.
Babraham Institute news article, 22 June 2020
26 May 2022