Scientific Vision

At Imago, our research is focused on therapeutics that alter gene expression patterns through the science of transcription – the factors that control how genes are turned on and off.

Individual cells differentiate into tissues, organs and circulating cells by genes that are ‘turned on’ or expressed, and those that are silenced, or ‘turned off.’ The DNA sequence of the genes does not change during this process – the DNA sequence inside a cell is remarkably stable under normal conditions. It is the epigenetic changes, the changing state of the proteins that surround the DNA, that most influence gene expression. These epigenetic changes are required for normal development, but some disruptions lead to life threatening diseases like cancer. In essence, cancer can arise simply because the patterns of gene expression have given cells a growth advantage and the ability to divide to form new cells. A therapeutic strategy is to restore normal gene expression patterns to such cells.

Significant progress has been made over the past ten years in understanding epigenetic regulation of gene expression. Researchers and drug developers are now exploring the therapeutic potential of modifying DNA without changing the sequence in order to turn genes on and off.

Imago was founded to understand this scientific signaling process, and to exploit regulators to alter gene expression for therapeutic benefit. Our therapies have their most profound effects on abnormal cells, and may be combined with existing treatments to restore healthy cellular function. We specialize in understanding gene editing and translating that expertise to design therapies that promote the corrected translation.

Scientific Vision
The three systems that can silence genes by interacting with each other include DNA methylation, chromatin modifications and RNA silencing. One clinical epigenetic approach has been to inhibit both DNA methylation and histone deacetylation with a variety of agents. This approach has had some impact on MDS and AML but these diseases involve other modifications of chromatin. Epigenetic mechanisms directly implicated in MDS and AML are the focus of our research and development program