Editas Rumored to be in “Advanced Discussions” around Potential Sale of Oncology Assets

Baisong Mei and Gilmore O'Neill_Editas

From left: Editas CMO Baisong Mei and CEO Gilmore O'Neill/courtesy of Editas Medicine 

CRISPR gene editing leader Editas Medicine often makes biotech headlines for its therapies for sickle cell and retinal diseases. Less often does it make the news for its preclinical cancer pipeline – which could be why the company is reportedly considering a sale of these assets.

Editas is in "advanced discussions" regarding the sale of its preclinical oncology lineup, according to reporting from Endpoints News. When asked to confirm the rumors, Cristi Barnett, VP & head of corporate communications at Editas told BioSpace, “We have long shared our plans to pursue development and commercialization opportunities through partnerships, specifically with oncology and our iNK program.”

Barnett added that with a new leadership team onboard, Editas “undertook a strategic review to inform opportunities.” 

Investors seemed to agree with the notion as Editas stock rose 4.2% following the report. 

Editas has given its C-Suite a makeover this year. In April, the company appointed genetic medicine veteran Gilmore O’Neill as president and CEO.

O’Neill wasted no time in bringing on board Sanofi veteran Baisong Mei to serve as the company’s new chief medical officer. Mei has deep experience in the hemophilia space at both Sanofi and Bayer. He replaced Lisa Michaels, who was terminated by the company in February.

Editas presented data on one of its oncology assets, EDIT-202, last week at the European Society of Gene and Cell Therapy 29th Annual Meeting in Edinburgh, Scotland. EDIT-202 is a gene-edited iPSC-derived NK cell therapy that maintains prolonged persistence, high cytotoxicity and enhanced in vivo control of solid tumors​, according to Editas.

“Currently, there is no change to our program or plans. EDIT-202…is advancing toward IND-enabling studies,” Barnett said. She added that Editas will share additional updates on this program later this year “including additional preclinical data at an upcoming medical meeting.”

Also at ESGCT, Editas presented preclinical data from another program, EDIT-103, which is being developed to treat rhodopsin-associated autosomal dominant retinitis pigmentosa (RHO-adRP), a progressive type of retinal degeneration.

In a non-human primate model, the therapy demonstrated nearly 100% knockout of the endogenous RHO gene. Additionally, the replacement RHO gene produced over 30% of normal RHO protein levels in the treated area of subretinal injection, the company reported.

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