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Editas Inks Three Licensing Deals for Genome-Editing Technologies

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Editas Medicine announced today that it has signed a licensing deal with Massachusetts General Hospital for intellectual property related to the use of CRISPR/Cas9 and TALEN genome-editing technologies for human and veterinary therapeutic applications, as well as broad agricultural use.

Separately, Editas said that it had struck similar deals with Duke University, Harvard University, and the Broad Institute for CRISPR/Cas9 and TALENs IP for the development of human therapeutics.

CRISPR — short for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats — is based on a natural process in which a protein called Cas9 binds to RNA molecules that guide it to a specific location in the genome, where it triggers a double-strand break (DSB) to induce targeted gene silencing.

TALENs, or transcription activator-like effector nucleases, are artificial restriction enzymes designed to cause DSBs in DNA at specific sequences.

Under the Mass General arrangement, Editas said it will have access to technology developed in the lab of company co-founder J. Keith Joung. According to Editas CEO Katrine Bosley, Joung has conducted key research into creating highly specific CRISPR and genome-editing molecules, which the company will primarily use with its drug candidates but which also has applicability in plants and animals.

Editas remains focused on human therapeutics, however, and intends to conduct any veterinary and agricultural projects only with a partner, she added.

The Harvard/Broad deal gives the firm the rights to the discoveries of Editas co-founders Feng Zhang and George Church, while the Duke deal covers work done by Charles Gersbach.

Specific terms of the three licensing deals were not disclosed.