How Gene Editing Just Got Rocked by Major Patent Ruling

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The possibilities around gene editing are almost endless. Some of the goals and hopes around gene editing sound like they were pulled right out of a science fiction or futuristic film. Imagine if you are predisposed to a disease and the medical community can almost magically edit your genes and make the disease irrelevant. Now there has been a major development that will potentially impact the field of gene editing in a major way — and it is creating big moves in three stocks.

Editas Medicine, Inc. (NASDAQ: EDIT) announced on Wednesday that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has issued a favorable decision in the CRISPR interference between the University of California, the University of Vienna, Emmanuelle Charpentier and the Broad Institute, Inc.  If the initial reaction were to remain static, then Editas may have just won a major victory and two companies may have just been given a major blow.

The USPTO ruling was said to cover certain CRISPR-Cas9 patents which Editas exclusively licenses from Broad. According to the release, this USPTO granted Broad’s Motion for No Interference in Fact and that this ends the interference before the USPTO.

Whether or not there are going to be or can be appeals from other interests and other companies remains to be seen. This is far from the only patent case in the world of biotech and biohealth, and many patent cases often drag on for years before any resolution is known. An opposition statement has been made and some recent background data has been included here(see below).

Editas Medicine is the most widely known of the three main genome editing companies which are public. The company aims to treat patients with genetically-defined diseases by correcting their disease-causing genes. These include eye diseases, muscle diseases, blood diseases, lung diseases, liver diseases and cancers. This company has been public only about a year, and it had previously secured an investment north of $100 million from Bill Gates and other venture backers.

Shares of Editas Medicine were last seen trading up a whopping 28% at $24.10, versus a 52-week range of $12.43 to $43.99. It has a consensus analyst price target of $35.60. its market cap after the large pop is about $860 million.

Another would-be winner from this is Juno Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: JUNO). This is a much larger company worth $2.5 billion, and its shares were last seen trading up 4.4% at $23.54 on Wednesday afternoon. Juno reached a deal back in 2015 with Editas to help engineer the T cells of cancer patients into more efficient cancer killers. The terms of the deal back then were shown to pay Editas $25 million up front and then to add in as much as $22 million for research costs over a five year period. At the time, it was reported that Editas could up to around $230 million for each program.

Intellia Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ: NTLA) was last seen trading down 15% at $11.70 on more than 1.1 million shares before the close (about 5 times normal). Intellia has a 52-week range of $10.83 )hit this day) to $30.40. It’s listed consensus analyst price target was shown to be $33.60 and Intellia’s market cap after the drop was $420 million.

CRISPR Therapeutics AG (NASDAQ: CRSP) was last seen trading down almost 18% at $14.20 on 534,000 shares (about 7 times normal volume). CRISPR has a 52-week range of $11.64 (also seen this same day) to $25.00. CRISPR’s market cap after the drop was $565 million, and its consensus analyst target before the news was $23.00.