Another CRISPR Gene Editing Company Decided to Go Public. What’s Investors’ Decision?

Another gene editing firm, CRISPR Therapeutics decided to become publicly traded. On Friday, the private firm filed with the SEC planning for a $90 million initial public offering (IPO).

CRISPR Therapeutics is headquartered in Switzerland, but also exists in Cambridge. It was cofounded by Emmanuelle Charpentier, who, together with Jennifer Doudna claim discovering CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing recipe.

The firm aim is to use CRISPR/Cas9 genome-editing technology to develop treatments for diseases. Cas9 represents the enzyme that can cut DNA at specific targeted locations within the genome, hence, enabling easy accurate and specific gene editing.

As we described in a previous Prohost Letter, In the year 2012, Doudna who was working then as a biologist at the University of California, and Charpentier who was working at the Max F Perutz Laboratories at the University of Vienna in Austria were the first to publish a paper in the Journal Science describing the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing and claiming the rights to the patent on the technique. They then co-founded CRISPR Therapeutics.

In the mean time, a researcher at the MIT-Harvard Broad Institute, Feng Zhang filed a broad U.S. patent claim on the same gene editing technique. Zhang won a patent for the technology after submitting laboratory notes to prove he was the first inventor.

Regarding Doudna, after founding a company called Caribou Biosciences, she cofounded Editas Medicine with Feng Zhang and with a professor at Harvard and MIT called George Church. Editas Medicine (EDIT) turned public, raising around100 million in its initial public offering (IPO).

Another firm working on the same CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing, Intellia Therapeutics(NTLA) has also turned public raising a huge amount of money in its initial public offering (IPO).


Turning into a publicly-traded firm, CRISPR expects to sell its shares on the NASDAQ under the ticker CRSP. The firm seems to decide on developing treatments for sickle cell anema; Duchenne muscular dystrophy; beta-thalassemia; hemophilia; Hulder syndrome and severe combined immunodeficiency. The firm also plans to conduct studies that could lead to developing treatments for cancer.

A Joint Venture with Bayer Creates Casebia Therapeutics

in December 2015, CRISPR Therapeutics and and Bayer decided to establish a joint venture known as Casebia Therapeutics. The new entity is based in Cambridge. The plan was to discover, develop and commercialize new drugs for blood disorders, blindness, and congenital heart disease using CRISPR’s gene-editing technology and benefiting from Bayer’s protein engineering expertise and marketing know-how. The deal was formalized in the first quarter of 2016 when Bayer invested $335 million in the venture.

In the press release about the establishment of Casebia Therapeutics Rodger Novak, CRISPR’s chief executive officer and co-founder stated, “The JV and the Bayer investments are game-changing for our business. We keep a 50 percent ownership in the high-risk, high-reward areas of blood disorders, blindness, and congenital heart diseases, but also retain full access to target delivery technologies and IP development by the JV, which we intend to fully leverage in support of CRISPR Therapeutics’ wholly owned core strategic disease areas.”

As we described in previous article, the joint venture firm Casebia has leased 33,000 square feet of space at 610 Main Street North in Cambridge, Mass. The building, which will be nine stories tall, is owned by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the firm expects to host 80 employees there and use the place as its primary headquarters.

Prohost Observations

Still a number of critics of the CRISPR/Cas9 insist on perpetrating their disbelief in this gene editing technique’s capability of treating genetic diseases. Some others call the CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing hype, waging campaigns that perpetrate the inability of this technique to create cures for chronic and deadly diseases.

Other analysts believe that the technology is revolutionary as a tool, yet, they also believe that its therapeutic products will face the same competition in the marketplace as any other drug development process.

At Prohost, we believe the CRISPR technique is a unique breakthrough. But we also see that the still disputed patents between the claimers should be our major concern until the disputes are dealt with by the patent office. Until then, the disputed patents and the negative fierce campaigns against the technology, in addition to the market’s instability seem to make many investors uneasy and reluctant to invest in this precious revolutionary technology.  We feel that many investors have decided not rush to invest early in these firms, but wait until some of the problems are solved and the regulators have decided upon the guidelines regarding using this technology in treating diseases. Some investors stated that if the technology is really so revolutionary, there will always be time to invest in it in the future. Investors cite the fact that “CRISPR/Cas9 treatments are still in a very early phases of testing and that millions of dollars will be spent before drugs based on this technology would reach the market.

They preferred to follow up on these firms’ accomplishments and learn about the clinical trials’ products outcomes before they invest in these firms.

Their reasoning doesn’t look bad to us.

Prohost Forward-Looking: Material presented here is for informational purposes only. Nothing in this article should be taken as a solicitation to purchase or sell securities. Before buying or selling any stock you should do your own research and reach your own conclusion. Further, these are our ‘opinions’ and we may be wrong. We may have positions in securities mentioned in this article. You should take this into consideration before acting on any advice given in this article. If this makes you uncomfortable, then do not listen to our thoughts and opinions. The contents of this article do not take into consideration your individual investment objectives so consult with your own financial adviser before making an investment decision. Investing includes certain risks including loss of principal.

Leave a Reply