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Editas Medicine Inks Licensing Deals for CRISPR IP

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Editas Medicine announced today that it has exclusively licensed intellectual property related to the use of the genome-editing technology CRISPR for human therapeutic applications.

According to Editas, the IP — owned by Broad Institute, Harvard University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Wageningen University, the University of Iowa, and the University of Tokyo — relates to a new CRISPR technology known as Cpf1, advanced forms of Cas9, and additional Cas9-based genome editing technologies.

In exchange for the licenses from the institutions, Editas will make an upfront cash payment of roughly $6.3 million and issue a promissory note totaling $10 million that can be settled in cash or stock over a predefined period. The company added that it may make additional milestone payments of cash or stock based on research and development, commercialization, and market capitalization goals, and will pay royalties on products based on these technologies.

Additional terms of the deals were not disclosed.

"We are delighted to expand our global CRISPR genome editing leadership and to build on the groundbreaking work of these important academic institutions to develop both the new genome editing system Cpf1 and advanced forms of Cas9," Editas President and CEO Katrine Bosley said in a statement. "With the addition of these significant advancements, we further develop the strongest and most differentiated platform in the fast-moving field of CRISPR, which enables us to design and develop unprecedented genome-editing medicines."

Editas' announcement comes just days after the University of California, the University of Vienna, and researcher Emmanuelle Charpentier announced a cross-licensing agreement for CRISPR/Cas9 IP in a deal that will affect sublicensees Caribou Biosciences, Intellia Therapeutics, CRISPR Therapeutics, and ERS Genomics.

The University of California is currently engaged in a patent interference dispute with the Broad over CRISPR/Cas9. The Broad holds a number of patents on the technology based on the work of Feng Zhang and colleagues, but the validity of that IP is being contested by the University of California, which has filed its own CRISPR/Cas9 patent application based on the work of UC-Berkeley Professor Jennifer Doudna and former Umea University scientist Emmanuelle Charpentier.