Roaring Intellia Moves Into New HQ, Allowing Company to Double Staff and Advance CRISPR/Cas9 Pipeline

Roaring Intellia Moves Into New HQ, Allowing Company to Double Staff and Advance CRISPR/Cas9 Pipeline December 2, 2016
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

Intellia Therapeutics , based in Cambridge, Mass., held a ribbon-cutting ceremony yesterday for its new laboratory facilities. The new labs are at 40 Erie Street in Cambridge, and takes the company’s total lab and office space from 15,000 square feet to more than 80,000 square feet. In addition, the company indicates it will be able to double its staff to more than 200 people.

The facility is part of a three-building space redeveloped by BioMed Realty Trust and named Sidney Research Campus. Intellia will continue operations at its current site at 130 Brookline Street in Cambridge.

Intellia focuses on developing therapeutics utilizing genome editing technology, CRISPR/Cas9. In May, the company had what the Boston Business Journal calls “the biggest initial public offering of 2016 for any Massachusetts biotech.” The IPO raised $124 million at its debut.

“The field of genome editing is rapidly evolving and our work to develop therapies for patients requires that we have the infrastructure necessary for R&D growth and prepare for preclinical studies and clinical trials,” said Nessan Bermingham, chief executive officer and founder of Intellia, in a statement. “To reach our goals, we continue to recruit top talent and ensure our quality workforce has the appropriate facilities and tools necessary to translate CRISPR/Cas9 into life-transforming products.”

Other companies include CRISPR Therapeutics, which filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) in mid-September for a $90 million initial public offering (IPO), Caribou Biosciences, and Editas .

Cas9 is an enzyme that can be programmed with RNA to cut DNA at specific, targeted locations within the genome, which allows for easier, more specific gene editing. The technology was first described in the journal Science in 2012 by Jennifer Doudna of the University of California Berkeley, along with Emmanuelle Charpentier, at that time at the Max F Perutz Laboratories at the University of Vienna in Austria. However, Feng Zhang, a researcher at the MIT-Harvard Broad Institute, first won a patent for the technology after submitting laboratory notes to prove he was the first inventor.

Lawsuits over the patents are ongoing. Doudna and Charpentier co-founded CRISPR Therapeutics with Rodger Novak. Doudna originally founded Caribou Bioscience, but later co-founded Editas with Zhang and George Church, a professor at Harvard and MIT.

In September, the Boston Business Journal, discussing CRISPR Therapeutics’ IPO, wrote, “However, it faces challenges: Namely, for all the hype surrounding gene editing, neither of the other two companies in the field have seen much in the way of stock gains. Shares of Editas, the company that raised $94 million in February, have only gained three percent in the past seven months from the IPO price, while those of Intellia, which raised $163 (million) in the state’s largest recent biotech IPO this past May, have increased 17 percent in four months.”

Intellia has had its ups and downs. It traded for $29.57 on May 31, dropped to $17.28 on July 19, spiked to $24.50 on August 23, and dropped again to $12.02 on October 18. It is currently trading for $15.80.

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