Intellia Broadens CRISPR Capabilities with Pick Up of Rewrite Therapeutics
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On Thursday, Intellia announced it had paid Rewrite shareholders $45 million upfront. Additionally, the transaction involved a transfer of $155 million in the form of Intellia common stock and cash.
Rewrite was founded by two University of California, Berkeley scientists, Professor David Schaffer, Ph.D. and Shakked Halperin, Ph.D., SAB chair and CEO respectively. Halperin, inventor of Rewrite’s gene editing platform, expressed excitement over the acquisition.
“Since my initial discovery that CRISPR-guided polymerases could help advance genome editing capabilities, I have focused my efforts on developing a suite of genome editing tools that could one day be used to create innovative and potentially curative treatments for patients with life-threatening diseases,” he said. “I am thrilled that these inventions will now be leveraged by the industry leader, Intellia, so that the full power and potential of genome editing can be harnessed to benefit patients.”
While developing safe and efficient CRISPR therapies, researchers have long recognized precision in delivery and editing as important factors in the safety of treatments. Previous methods sometimes missed the mark, and that can be catastrophic.
Rewrite’s DNA writing technology allows finer control over DNA editing, providing a broader toolkit for editing genes that cause disease and furthering the therapeutic reach of genomic medicines. In a game-changing move, Rewrite had also developed a more efficient manner of genome editing in non-dividing cell types. Rewrite's technology could pair well with the delivery methods Intellia has already developed that use lipid nanoparticle (LNP) technology and adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors.
Intellia made history in June 2021, when along with partner Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, it presented positive early data from the first-ever patients to have their DNA edited with an in vivo CRISPR/Cas9 therapy. Intellia was followed in this accomplishment by Editas Medicine and LogicBio Therapeutics later in 2021.
Intellia President and Chief Executive Officer John Leonard, M.D. recognized the importance of Rewrite's contribution to their platform:
“At Intellia, we have built the industry’s broadest and deepest genome editing platform by staying at the forefront of new techniques, while also extending the capabilities of CRISPR/Cas9 editing to make precisely targeted changes to DNA," Leonard said. "We could not be more excited to add Rewrite’s additional capabilities to our growing platform, offering us new possibilities and the potential to target diseases beyond those currently being explored in our pipeline.”
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