Omega Therapeutics is firing up preclinical development of an epigenomic drug platform invented at Whitehead Institute and incubated by Flagship Pioneering.

Omega Therapeutics, a US-based epigenomic medicine platform developer exploiting Whitehead Institute research, closed an $85m round on Wednesday featuring undisclosed investors.

Founded in 2017 by biotech incubator Flagship Pioneering, Omega Therapeutics plans to develop drugs using a biotechnology known as epigenomic programming whereby the human genome – its whole genetic structure – is carefully adjusted to cure diseases without affecting native sequences of nucleic acids such as DNA.

The platform centres on controlling insulated genomic domains (IGDs), structures connected to the folds of DNA that naturally regulate the human genome but which can be engineered to alter the activity of single or multiple genes simultaneously.

The funding is anticipated to help Omega make headway on its technology as it looks toward clinical trials starting from 2021 aimed at indications including cancer, autoimmune conditions and rare genetic diseases.

Omega Therapeutics extends research by Rick Young, a professor of biology at the Whitehead Institute, based at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The company emerged from stealth in September 2019 and does not appear to have raised funding previously.

Noubar Afeyan, chief executive of Flagship Pioneering and chairman of the board at Omega Therapeutics, said: “We founded Omega with the long-term vision to create a controllable epigenomic programming platform that would identify novel epigenetic targets and therapeutically address them through a new class of genomic medicines.

“Although human cells all share a common genetic code within their 23 pairs of chromosomes, epigenetic regulation determines identity and function at the tissue and cellular level. Coordinated changes in epigenomic programming drive the cellular variation that controls human biology, in both healthy and diseased states.”