Enhanc3D Genomics begins new era at Jeffreys Building on St John’s Innovation Park in Cambridge
Enhanc3d Genomics held an open day at its new premises in the Jeffreys Building on St John’s Innovation Park last week.
Founded in 2020, Enhanc3d was spun out of Dr Stefan Schoenfelder and Professor Peter Fraser’s pioneering 3D genome organisation research laboratory at the Babraham Institute. It was in the first cohort of the Start Codon accelerator, and has relocated to the Park from the Milner Institute and was this week shortlisted in the Cambridge Independent Science and Technology Awards 2023.
Enhanc3D’s mission is to unlock the full potential of the human genome’s 3D organisation for target and biomarker discovery. The company’s proprietary disruptive technology, deployed in its GenLink3D platform, focuses on the uncharted non-coding regions that make up 98 per cent of the human genome to identify 3D genetic interactions that are causal for disease susceptibility and progression.
Ahead of the opening at the new Jeffreys Building facility, which houses the team of 20 and includes wet labs, CEO Debora Lucarelli said that the founders are still very much involved.
“Stefan is currently involved as the company CSO and Peter is chair of the scientific advisory board,” said Debora. “They are both involved with the company and regularly join lab meetings, board discussions and company events.”
GenLink3D is identifying what these non-coding areas of the human genome are up to. When these 3D interactions are identified, what happens next?
“These interactions exist in our genome and play an important role in gene regulation,” replies Debora. “They define our cells’ life-cycles, from transcription to cell-death. We detect them using a laboratory assay called promoter capture HiC. We analyse the data using a variety of algorithms, and have created a 3D genomic atlas.
“The new maps allow us to connect linearly distal regulatory elements and overlay multiomics and genome sequencing data, to ultimately identify previously uncharted target and biomarkers. We functionally validate selected candidates and create data packages to be utilised for target discovery and patient stratification.”
And is GenLink3D fully up and running?
“The first version of GenLink3D is ready and up and running,” says Debora. “We are now working on the next phase of development and using the investment to scale up.”
That investment is a Series A round which, led by BGF and Parkwalk Advisors, raised £10m in October 2022.
The funds will be used “to rapidly generate deep datasets of novel diagnostic signatures and candidate therapeutic targets across multiple immune-related diseases for internal and external development”.
Debora had joined the company earlier that year – in May – from a director role at Cambridge Epigenetix. Prior to that she had been head of laboratory at the MRC Epidemiology Unit. How did her connection with Enhanc3d Genomics come about?
“Prof Fraser is a pioneer and well-renowned leader in chromatin architecture studies. It was a pleasure to meet him and Stefan in 2019. They have been developing the technology for almost a decade and I wanted to support their wish to translate the platform to an application that could benefit therapeutic development and ultimately impact patient care.”
And what were the reasons for leaving the Milner?
“The Milner is set-up to support early-stage companies and we were privileged to work with them for the first couple of years, particularly during the [early] Covid period. We are now at a point where we need dedicated infrastructures to support our laboratory and bioinformatics pipelines and we also need to accommodate a team of about 20 people.”