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Allergan invests in gene editing

Multinational pharmaceutical company Allergan has entered into a strategic research and development alliance with biotech firm Editas Medicine.

Under the agreement, Allergan will receive exclusive access and the option to license up to five of Editas Medicine’s genome-editing ocular programs, including its lead program for Leber Congenital Amaurosis (LCA10), which is currently in pre-clinical development.

"The CRISPR genome editing platform holds the potential to transform the treatment of many genetic and non-genetically derived diseases,"
Mr David Nicholson, Allergan’s Research and Development Officer

Aside from investigating LCA10, a rare congenital disease that causes blindness at an early age, the collaboration will also be aimed at researching new treatment methods for serious ocular diseases using Editas’ established CRISPR editing platform.

“The CRISPR genome editing platform holds the potential to transform the treatment of many genetic and non-genetically derived diseases, including diseases and conditions of the eye,” Allergan’s research and development officer Mr David Nicholson said.

“The Allergan team is excited to work with colleagues at Editas Medicine to develop and potentially deliver game-changing treatment for retinal diseases like LCA10. This program is highly complementary to our ongoing eye care development programs where unmet medical need exists for patients.”

Nicholson added that Allergan is strengthening its position in addressing underserved eye diseases.

Meanwhile, Editas president and CEO Ms Katrine Bosley said working with Allergan would significantly enhances its ability to develop editing medicines to help patients with serious eye disease.

“Allergan has long been a leader in advancing innovative therapies to treat eye diseases,” she said. “This alliance is highly aligned with our strategy to build our company for the long-term and to realise the broad potential of our genome editing platform to treat serious diseases.”

The deal will see Allergan provide an upfront payment of $90 million for licensing and access rights, while Editas will also receive several undisclosed payment amounts when LCA10 goes through clinical trials.

Editas’ stock rose 7% on the back of the news but has since corrected to sit at just under US20c a share at the time of going to press.

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