Editas and Vertex Ink Deal for Cas9 License for $50M Upfront


Pictured: Two professionals shaking hands/iStock, fizkes

Editas Medicine and Vertex Pharmaceuticals have forged a $50 million deal for a licensing agreement of Editas’s Cas9 technology. In an announcement on Wednesday, Editas said Vertex will get a non-exclusive license the gene editing tech for use in medicines that target the BCL11A gene in sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia, including Casgevy, or exagamglogene autotemcel.

The announcement follows FDA’s approval on Friday of Vertex’s and CRISPR Therapeutics’ Casgevy, the first CRISPR/Cas9-based gene editing therapy for sickle cell disease. Casgevy has been heralded as a curative treatment for the disease.

According to documents filed with the SEC, Editas will receive a $50 million upfront cash payment and is eligible for an additional $50 million as a contingent payment, plus annual license fees between $10 million and $40 million through 2034. Editas does have to pay The Broad Institute and the President and Fellows of Harvard College a “mid-double digit percentage” of the amounts received from Vertex because it licensed the Cas9 technology from Harvard and The Broad Institute. However, Editas was adamant that the deal would extend its cash runway into 2026.

Editas’ Cas9 patent also has MIT and The Rockefeller University listed as co-owners.

The deal news sent Vertex’s stock price up by more than 9% on Wednesday, while Editas only saw a stock increase of over 2%.

Separately from the licensing agreement, Editas itself has a CRISPR-based therapy in development for sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia.

Tyler Patchen is a staff writer at BioSpace. You can reach him at tyler.patchen@biospace.com. Follow him on LinkedIn.



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