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Editas Inks Deal for Gene Editing Neurological Disease Drugs

Zacks Equity Research

Editas Medicine, Inc. EDIT announced that it has entered into a strategic research collaboration with privately held gene therapy company Asklepios BioPharmaceutical (AskBio) to jointly explore in vivo delivery of genome editing medicines for treating neurological diseases.

The collaboration will integrate AskBio's AAV technology and clinical-stage manufacturing with Editas' genome editing technologies to innovative genome editing medicines for treating neurological diseases with high unmet need.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

Shares of Editas have lost 10.9% so far this year compared with the industry’s decrease of 6.4%.

Notably, Editas makes medicines to treat serious diseases using its proprietary genome editing platform based on CRISPR technology.

The company's lead pipeline candidate is EDIT-101 which uses CRISPR gene editing to treat Leber congenital amaurosis type 10 (LCA10) – a rare genetic illness that causes blindness.

Editas is developing EDIT-101 in partnership with Allergan AGN. Both companies plan to initiate patient dosing in the phase I/II dose escalation study called Brilliance on EDIT-101 for addressing LCA10 in the second half of 2019. The study opened for patient enrolment in July.

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).

Meanwhile, Editas has some 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 2019, Editas inked a research and cross licensing deal with privately held BlueRock Therapeutics, LP, to combine the respective genome editing and cell-therapy technologies to discover, develop and manufacture novel engineered cell medicines.

Zacks Rank & Key Pick

Editas currently carries a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell).

A better-ranked stock in the healthcare sector is Incyte Corporation INCY, which sports a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Incyte’s earnings estimates have been revised 1.5% upward for 2019 and 1.5% for 2020 over the past 60 days. The stock has rallied 23.5% year to date.

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