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Editas goes public despite CRISPR patent battle

08 February 2016

By Cait McDonagh

Appeared in BioNews 838

A biotechnology company co-founded by two leading scientists involved in developing the genome-editing technology, CRISPR-Cas9, has gone public, raising over $94 million in its initial share offering.

The gains were made despite the fact that two of its original co-founders, Professor Jennifer Doudna of the University of California, Berkeley – who no longer works with the company – and Professor Feng Zhang of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, are locked in an ongoing patent dispute over rights to the CRISPR technology (see BioNews 835).

Editas, based in Boston and supported by investments from Google Ventures and Bill Gates, floated an initial public offering (IPO) in January and sold 5.9 million shares totalling $94.4 million. The company plans to use CRISPR technology, which is still in its infancy, to treat a rare form of blindness (see BioNews 828). CEO Katrine Bosley has announced that they intend to begin clinical trials in 2017.

However, it is not yet clear whether Editas, which licenses the Broad patents, will continue to have rights to use the technology. Patent rights currently awarded to Professor Zhang and the Broad are being challenged by Professor Doudna, and the dispute is not expected to be decided for a couple of years.

Wired explains that if Professor Zhang loses the rights in dispute, or is required to share them with Professor Doudna, then Editas would need to obtain a licences from her, which could be costly and may not even be possible.

Editas also faces competition from other companies that are developing CRISPR technology, including Professor Doudna's own Caribou Biosciences and also CRISPR Therapeutics, which has recently announced a $300 million joint venture with Bayer AG to develop new drugs for a range of illnesses.

Harry Glorikian, a Lexington life sciences consultant, said: 'This is groundbreaking technology that's going to fundamentally change how we treat some diseases. The technology itself is the highlight of this IPO.'

RELATED ARTICLES FROM THE BIONEWS ARCHIVE

22 August 2016 - by Chee Hoe Low 
A former MIT visiting student who worked in the Zhang lab for nine months in 2011 has claimed that patents over the CRISPR genome-editing technology were 'mis-patented'...
25 July 2016 - by Rachel Siden 
Chinese scientists plan to start the first-ever clinical trial of CRISPR genome-editing technology in humans – on patients with lung cancer – this August...
25 April 2016 - by Dr Özge Özkaya 
Scientists have fine tuned the genome-editing tool CRISPR so that it can now edit a single 'letter' of DNA...

25 January 2016 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
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18 January 2016 - by Antony Blackburn-Starza 
The CRISPR 'patent wars' have now officially kicked off in the USA, with formal proceedings to determine who controls key patents over the revolutionary genome-editing technology...
23 November 2015 - by Dr James Legg 
On 26 October this year the CRISPR/Cas patent wars truly began with the filing of European oppositions against what appears to be the first patent granted in Europe for this revolutionary gene-editing technology....
16 November 2015 - by Ari Haque 
A US biotechnology start-up co-founded by two pioneers of CRISPR technology intends to begin gene editing in humans as part of an experimental treatment to target a rare genetic eye disorder...
02 December 2013 - by Dr Rachel Brown 
A biotech start-up that will develop genome-editing therapies has received US $43 million investment from three venture capital firms...

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