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Deal for Genome Editing

Novartis has signed deals with Intellia Therapeutics and Caribou Biosciences that Reuters says gives the drugmaker access to using the CRISPR genome-editing technology to develop new therapeutics and as a research tool.

CRISPR, short for clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, is an of-the-moment editing tool that has captured the imagination of many researchers because of its relative ease of use. Others have tried to temper this excitement by noting that the frequency of off-target and other unintended effects still need to be investigated.

According to Reuters, with the Intellia agreement, Novartis will receive exclusive rights to develop engineered chimeric antigen receptor T-cells (CARTs) as well as a number of targets for editing hematopoietic stem cells. CARTs, Reuters notes, change immune cells so that they can recognize and then destroy cancerous cells,

Meanwhile, with its Caribou collaboration, the drugmaker will be working on developing CRISPR as a research tool.

"We have glimpsed the power of CRISPR tools in our scientific programs in [Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research], and it is now time to explore how to safely extend this powerful technology to the clinic," Mark Fishman, NIBR, tells Reuters.