Running Up That Hill: Nessan Bermingham on Close to the Edge

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Serial entrepreneur Nessan Bermingham, PhD, has a knack for identifying exciting new technologies and niches in the life sciences. Whether as a founder, CEO and executive chairman—or sometimes all of the above—Bermingham likes to run from the front.

As a former venture capitalist at Atlas Venture, Bermingham has enjoyed a front-row seat for the conception and launch of several dynamic biotech companies. Perhaps the best known is Intellia Therapeutics, one of the first wave of public CRISPR gene editing companies. Intellia celebrated a major milestone in June when it published results on the first half-dozen patients receiving an in vivo gene editing therapy for ATTR amyloidosis, a rare liver disease. Intellia is now in the capable hands of John Leonard, MD, whom Bermingham first met queuing at the salad bar at an Atlas Venture retreat.

Currently, Bermingham serves as executive chairman of two noteworthy biotech companies. Triplet Therapeutics aims to develop a therapy for a class of genetic diseases known as triplet repeat disorders, in which a sequence of DNA repeats expands significantly. Triplet’s initial target is the most famous triplet repeat disorder, Huntington’s disease, which is being targeted using an antisense oligonucleotide called TTX-3360.

Bermingham is also executive chairman of Korro Bio, an RNA editing company that features a tagline on its website: “Edit the message. Rewrite the future.” The company’s OPERA (Oligonucleotide Promoted Editing of RNA) platform features a natural enzyme called ADAR (adenosine deaminase acting on RNA), which can be thought of as a form of base editing on RNA rather than DNA, offering more transient forms of therapy.

In episode 7 of Close to the Edge, Bermingham regales us with tales from the forefront of biotechnology, forging diagnostic and therapeutic companies as an investor, founder, chief executive and chairperson. We also discuss his penchant for extreme sports including ultra-marathons, where he brings the same zeal and determination that he instills in his businesses.

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