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Editas (EDIT) Focuses on Developing Eye Candidate EDIT-101

Zacks Equity Research

On Jul 3, we initiated a research report on Editas Medicine, Inc. EDIT.

The company’s lead pipeline candidate, EDIT-101, which uses CRISPR gene editing, is being developed for treating Leber congenital amaurosis type 10 (LCA10), a rare genetic illness that causes blindness.

Editas is developing EDIT-101 in partnership with Allergan AGN. The company has a strategic alliance and option agreement with Allergan under which, the latter reserves rights to in-license up to five of Editas’ genome editing ocular programs. Last July, Allergan exercised its option to develop and commercialize EDIT-101 globally while Editas exercised its right to a profit-sharing understanding with Allergan under which, the company will co-develop and equally divide the profits and losses from EDIT-101 in the United States.

Both companies plan to begin patient dosing in the phase I/II dose escalation study on EDIT-101 during the second half of 2019.

The company is also pursuing the development of CRISPR candidates for eye diseases other than LCA10, which include Usher Syndrome type 2A (USH2A) and the recurrent ocular Herpes Simplex Virus type 1 (HSV-1).

Last month, Editas commenced investigational new drug (IND) enabling activities for EDIT-301, an experimental CRISPR medicine, designed to treat sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia by editing the beta-globin locus.

By the end of 2022, Editas targets to have three medicines in early-stage clinical development and at least two in or ready for late-stage studies.

Shares of Editas have gained 8% so far this year, underperforming the industry’s rise of 8.3%.

We would like to remind investors that genomic editing using CRISPR technology to repair a defective genetic material that causes diseases is probably one of the most promising and exciting healthcare innovations seen in decades. There are only a handful of companies making medicines using this revolutionary technology and Editas is one. The company has two CRISPR platforms, one using the Cas9 protein and the other, the Cpf1 protein.

Presently, Editas has no approved product in its portfolio. The company has a couple of high-profile collaborations with big pharma entities for its CRISPR technology, which provide research support and sufficient funds to fulfill its pipeline development plans. Apart from Allergan, it has a collaboration and licensing pact with Juno Therapeutics — now part of Celgene CELG — to use the latter’s gene-editing approaches including CRISPR-Cas9 for developing the engineered T cell medicines to tackle cancer.

In April this year, Editas inked a research and cross licensing deal with BlueRock Therapeutics, LP, to combine the respective genome editing and cell-therapy technologies to discover, develop and manufacture novel engineered cell medicines.

Due to dearth of a marketed product, Editas is heavily dependent on its partners for collaboration revenues. Apart from EDIT-101, all of Editas’ pipeline candidates are still in the preclinical or research stage of development and will take several years prior to commercialization. Moreover, stiff competition persists as a major concern as other companies, such as CRISPR Therapeutics and Intellia Therapeutics NTLA are either planning to conduct or have already started clinical probes to develop curative CRISPR/Cas9-based medicines. As a result, any regulatory setback in the company’s pipeline development might dent the stock.

Editas Medicine, Inc. Price and Consensus

Editas Medicine, Inc. Price and Consensus

Editas Medicine, Inc. price-consensus-chart | Editas Medicine, Inc. Quote

Zacks Rank

Editas currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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