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CRISPR Genome Editing from Editas

Dr. George Church, is a Professor of Genetics at Harvard and widely considered to be a pioneer in synthetic biology. In previous articles we have highlighted companies he is involved in including genome interpretation company Knome which he co-founded and Joule, a synthetic biology company producing diesel fuel and ethanol directly from sunlight, where he sits as a technical adviser. Another company in which George Church co-founded, Editas, has recently started coming out of stealth mode and is looking to edit, remove or fix genes in human cells.

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About
Founded in 2013, Boston based Editas has taken in $43 million in Series A venture capital financing led by leading health care venture capital firms Flagship Ventures, Polaris Partners and Third Rock Ventures with participation from Partners Innovation Fund. Editas was founded by five world leaders in the fields of genome editing, protein engineering, and molecular and structural biology; George ChurchFeng ZhangJennifer A. Doudna, J. Keith Joung, and David R. Liu.

CRISPR
Just this past week, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard were awarded a key patent covering CRISPR, a new way of making precise, targeted changes to the genome of a cell or an organism. First used for genome editing in 2012, CRISPR is one of the most important genetic technologies developed in recent years. According to an article a few days ago by the MIT Technology Review, MIT, Harvard, and the Broad all jointly own the CRISPR patents. The Broad Institute’s technology licensing office will manage decisions about who will get licenses to use the technology. This should bode well for Editas since Fang Zheng, co-founder of Editas, is a core member of the Broad Institute. The article also mentioned that a spokesperson from Broad said that “specific details around licensing aren’t available at this time, but that Broad does intend to make this technology broadly available to scientists.” Editas is also working with a similar gene editing method called TALENS. A comparison of three gene editing techniques can be seen below:

Gene_Editing_Options

In another MIT Technology Review article late last year, George Church stated that the technology’s ability to change single base pairs enables fundamentally new ways of thinking about gene therapy. Many inherited diseases, including cystic fibrosis and sickle-cell anemia, are caused by single base pair changes to the DNA sequence of genes, and the precise CRISPR technology could correct these mutations in patients. Editas has not made much mention about which diseases they plan to target first but their first rounding fund should give them plenty of capital to establish some suitable targets.

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  • Gerald Netto

    Do Small investors have a chance of investing in Editas, or is this only for the big boys.if and when more funding is required is there a chance that one can invest.

    • Nanalyze

      Thank you for the comment Gerald. Editas had an IPO in February of this year. The ticker is EDIT.

  • Lamar Thompkins

    I hope that Editas would pursue research with CRISPR Cas 9 and its potential to treat neurological disorders. I have an incurable malady, called spinal bulbar muscular atrophy (a.k.a “Kennedy’s Disease”), which leads to muscle and nerve degeneration. It effects my back and limbs; I have tremendous difficulty climbing stairs and ladders, and my quality of life has diminished. Do you think that gene editing may prove beneficial for me? Please advise. I would gladly volunteer for any clinical trials that you may initiate!

    • Nanalyze

      Hi Lamar,
      Thank you for the comment. You’ll have to just stay close to the ongoing research as there is a lot to keep track of and we have just touched the surface. Human trials are only just beginning so treatments are likely a long ways away.

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