RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – Locus Biosciences  has raised $7 million in new capital to fund the acquisition of a California firm, EpiBiome.

The deal was announced last week but financial details were not disclosed.

However, in an SEC filing, Locus disclosed that the new capital raise has a specific purpose:

“The Issuer agreed to issue up to 755,747 shares of its Series A-1 Preferred Stock (the “Shares”) for the purchase of substantially all of the assets of EpiBiome, Inc. (“EpiBiome”), subject to certain holdback and earnout provisions.”

According to the filing, 24 investors participated in the new funding.

Locus is a fast-emerging North Carolina biotechnology company that’s about to get a lot faster at unfolding its Pac-Man-like genetic tricks to whack drug-resistant bacteria.

Locus Biosciences

EpiBiome has developeda high-speed technology platform that will put even more focus on Locus.

As Jim Shamp of the North Carolina Biotechnology Center reported last week, Locus officials have confirmed that the company is consolidating most operations into its RTP headquarters, but it will maintain EpiBiome’s former Union City, California site for at least the next six to nine months.

Five former EpiBiome team members are joining the Locus team, either as full-time employees or contractors, including EpiBiome co-founder and former CEO Aeron Hammack, Ph.D., and co-founder and former CSO Nick Conley, Ph.D., who have joined Locus’ leadership team.

Locus now employs 23 people full-time, including the EpiBiome employees coming aboard with this transaction. All but one of them are in North Carolina. Locus expects to grow its RTP employment to 30+ this year.

The company is developing a next-generation version of CRISPR-Cas, a high-profile new gene-editing technology.

It’s developing precision antimicrobials that can combat antibiotic-resistant “superbug” bacteria such as such as Clostridium difficile, Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Enterobacteriaceae.Locus, a 2015 spinout of North Carolina State University, was born with the help of two loans from the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.

CRISPR is an acronym for a phenomenon in DNA structure called Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats. Bacteria have evolved with it over millions of years to use it as a defense mechanism against invaders. In the past decade or so, scientists have found a number of accompanying enzymes that perform a variety of functions within bacterial cells, from cutting and killing to repression and activation of genes.  The most well-known enzyme these days is Cas9, which can be used as a “molecular scissors” to clip DNA at specific places inside both bacterial and human cells.