Al­ler­gan antes up $90M in a land­mark CRISPR/Cas9 col­lab­o­ra­tion with Ed­i­tas on eye dis­eases

Ka­trine Bosley, Ed­i­tas. Cred­it: Jon Chomitz

Al­ler­gan is jump­ing in­to the CRISPR busi­ness.

The biotech struck a deal to part­ner with CRISPR/Cas9 leader Ed­i­tas $ED­IT on up to five pro­grams aimed at cur­ing eye dis­eases. And the pack­age in­cludes Ed­i­tas’ lead pro­gram for Leber Con­gen­i­tal Amau­ro­sis (LCA10), which is cur­rent­ly wrap­ping pre­clin­i­cal re­search with an eye to mov­ing in­to the clin­ic in pos­si­bly the first hu­man CRISPR study in the US.

Ed­i­tas is bag­ging $90 mil­lion up­front for this deal, but the two new part­ners are keep­ing the mile­stones un­der wraps for now.

Ed­i­tas re­cent­ly won the lat­est round in a nasty scrap over patent rights to its CRISPR/Cas9 tech, squar­ing off against CRISPR Ther­a­peu­tics and In­tel­lia.

While it’s still very ear­ly days for CRISPR, the gene edit­ing tech holds great promise, which is help­ing it sweep through aca­d­e­m­ic cir­cles and be­gin to in­spire deals and star­tups, in­clud­ing Ex­on­ics, a spin­out from the lab of UT South­west­ern re­searcher Er­ic Ol­son. Us­ing CRISPR/Cas9, re­searchers have been able to ed­it dis­eases out of genes in an­i­mals, of­fer­ing a new ap­proach to drug R&D, though we’re like­ly years away from any late-stage prod­ucts.

Al­ler­gan $AGN has been an am­bi­tious and pro­lif­ic re­search part­ner as CEO Brent Saun­ders nav­i­gates his way through a slate of new deals each year. That fo­cus in­cludes a grow­ing pipeline of ex­per­i­men­tal meds for eye dis­eases, with 20 dif­fer­ent pro­grams un­der­way in the field. And Ed­i­tas’ prospec­tive once-and-done ther­a­pies could of­fer a ground­break­ing new ap­proach. Many of Saun­ders’ pacts, though, are tilt­ed more to­ward mid- and late-stage de­vel­op­ment, mak­ing this pre­clin­i­cal deal a some­what un­usu­al play for the com­pa­ny.

“Al­ler­gan has long been a leader in ad­vanc­ing in­no­v­a­tive ther­a­pies to treat eye dis­eases,” said Ka­trine Bosley, Pres­i­dent and Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer, Ed­i­tas Med­i­cine.  “Work­ing to­geth­er with Al­ler­gan through their Open Sci­ence R&D mod­el sig­nif­i­cant­ly en­hances our abil­i­ty to de­vel­op genome edit­ing med­i­cines to help pa­tients with se­ri­ous eye dis­eases. This al­liance is high­ly aligned with our strat­e­gy to build our com­pa­ny for the long-term and to re­al­ize the broad po­ten­tial of our genome edit­ing plat­form to treat se­ri­ous dis­eases.”

Com­mu­ni­cat­ing the val­ue of pre­ci­sion med­i­cine

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