UPDATED: Vertex pays CRISPR $900M to take control of sickle cell partnership, betting they can beat bluebird -- and renewing analysts' skepticism
When Vertex chairman Jeffrey Leiden and CRISPR Therapeutics CEO Samarth Kulkarni got on the call for the first meeting of the year, the tenor was different than in the dozens of conversations the two had had since they first teamed back in 2015.
Vertex and CRISPR had just shown curative results in ten patients for their gene therapy for sickle cell disease and beta thalassemia. Meanwhile, their main rival in the field, bluebird bio, had suffered the latest in a string of manufacturing setbacks, pushing back their timeline by a year.
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