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Catch CRISPR 2.0, RNA-Targeting Drugs & More At “Disruptors” on Oct. 17

Xconomy Boston — 

These days biotechs are raising cash and going public at a record pace. But before the Wall Street buzz and the big raises, they all started somewhere—with an idea, a pitch, and perhaps a little luck.

Xconomy dives into these company creation stories at “Boston’s Life Science Disruptors,” our yearly look under the hood at three up-and-coming biotechs in the Boston area. We bring together small groups of scientific founders, entrepreneurs, and investors, for a candid, behind-the-scenes look at how an idea becomes a company, the struggles that ensue, and the long path forward. This year’s event, which takes place on Oct. 17 at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT in Cambridge, MA, features three young companies—Arrakis Therapeutics, Beam Therapeutics, and Celsius Therapeutics—pushing the scientific envelope in completely different ways. (Register here.)

Arrakis, for instance, is one member of an emerging crop of companies trying to target RNA molecules—which help translate our genetic blueprint into proteins—with chemical drugs. The effort is being led by Michael Gilman, a veteran scientific entrepreneur who formed and sold two other biotechs, and his longtime friend and colleague, Arrakis’s CSO and founder, Jennifer Petter.

Beam, meanwhile, isn’t just another company trying to use the landmark CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system to develop drugs; several such companies are already public. Beam, which raised $87 million in May, is going a step further, trying to use a more precise version of CRISPR—known as base editing—to make new medicines. Scientific co-founder David Liu, of the Broad Institute, will be on hand along with CEO John Evans, a former business executive at Agios Pharmaceuticals (NASDAQ: AGIO).

Last is Celsius, which also launched in May with a large funding round and is similarly trying to use a next-gen, ultra-precise approach to an existing technology. Celsius is building a way to study the genetic activity of single cells, what’s known as single-cell genomics, in hopes of unearthing key drivers of disease. Co-founder and Broad Institute scientist Aviv Regev, a leader in developing these technologies, will speak along with founding investor Alexis Borisy of Third Rock Ventures and Celsius president (and former Blueprint Medicines chief scientific officer) Christoph Lengauer.

Space is limited, but you can grab your tickets here, and still grab a discount if you register by Oct. 10. See you all at the Koch Institute on Oct. 17.