Coming Soon – A gene editing startup backed by Bill Gates

A revolutionary gene therapy industry recently got world’s attention once again when the new of Editas Medicine – a startup company backed by Bill Gates and other well known ventures, among others and the first of its kind gene editing biotech organization to go to public soon floated across the glob.

The startup, that filed an initial public offering with the Security and Exchange Commission on 4th of January 2016, Monday, will apply a revolutionary technique called Crispr to treat diseases by rectifying genetic defects. T he initial money it has filed for is $100 million. Yes, you read it correctly, it’s a mammoth $100 million. Though the value may vary, the investment money may rise.

The company may use up to $20 million to fund its research focused on ‘Leber Congenital Amaurosis type 10, or LCA10, which causes progressive blindness in human beings. The company plans to begin clinical trials to treat this disease most probably by 2017. It’s also planning to invest $22 million into its collaboration with Juno Therapeutics, focusing on the potentials of gene editing techniques to fight cancer.

The first project likely to be tried out in patients, is a treatment for Leber’s congenital amaurosis type 10, a genetic form of blindness. The disease is a good choice for a first attempt at making CRISPR-Cas9 work, because it is in the eye, where gene therapies are easier to deliver, and because it is caused by a single genetic misspelling that can be deleted out. It will be much harder to rewrite genes than to make simple deletions.

The company has also recorded a net loss of $60.3 million in the first nine months of 2015, and though it claims in its filing that it does not expect to generate returns for the foreseeable future. – really appreciable! Isn’t it?

Currently scientists uses Crispr technique to precisely and easily edit genes that will be passed down to future generations. Actually this technique has been heralded in the genetic industry as a revolutionary step into the future of medicine. Some scientists, in a study funded by the Bill Gates Foundation, are already proposing to use the technology to wipe out certain species of mosquito that are the prime carriers of malaria.

Image courtesy: At Washington, DC.

In December 2015, policy-makers and scientists gathered in Washington, D.C. for a conference to discuss the wide-ranging implications of the technique, where many advised caution in the use of such a powerful tool.

An Editas spokesperson confirmed the filing and declined to comment further.

All these might take years, and it could be a long time before there is an initial public offering or sale that would offer the investors a payoff on their investment. Flynn, the Deerfield partner, says he’s confident and keen to wait for positive outcomes. His fund has a 12-year tenure. “We’re very comfortable we can weather any storm that is likely to come.” he adds.

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