Editas raises $94 million in gene-editing IPO

Image: CRISPR-Cas9 at work
CRISPR-Cas9 technology uses “molecular scissors” to cut and splice DNA, as shown in this computer animation. (Credit: McGovern Institute for Brain Research, MIT)

Editas Medicine’s entry into the stock market with a $94.4 million initial public offering appears to be sparking positive signals for the company as well as the nascent gene-editing industry.

That’s not only because the Massachusetts-based startup, which lists Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates among its investors, was able to sell 5.9 million shares handily at a price of $16 a share. It’s also because the stock’s price trended upward during the company’s first hours of public trading on the NASDAQ exchange Feb. 3.

There have been lots of questions surrounding Editas, the biotech industry and the IPO market as a whole: Editas’ offering was the first IPO of the year, ending a drought sparked by concerns about stock market volatility.

What’s more, biotech stocks have been caught up in a riptide over the past few months. And on top of all that, Editas is heading into a dispute over patents relating to the CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing technology.

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Gene-editing startup Editas files for IPO

Image: Feng Zhang with student
Broad Institute researcher Feng Zhang, one of the founders of Editas Medicine, works in his lab with graduate student Patrick Hsu. (Credit: Justin Knight / NSF)

Editas Medicine filed the paperwork for an initial public offering today, marking a first for the growing number of private ventures that aim to take advantage of a powerful gene-editing technology known as CRISPR-Cas9.

Among Editas’ private investors are Bng0, an investment company with funds from Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates; Google Ventures, the venture capital fund associated with Alphabet; and Khosla Ventures, the fund fronted by startup whiz Vinod Khosla. The company is collaborating with Seattle-based Juno Therapeutics on cancer treatments that take advantage of immunotherapy.

Editas was founded by several of the pioneers in the use of CRISPR-Cas9, a method that lets researchers snip and edit a wide variety of genomes to correct glitches or insert new code.

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