Scribe Therapeutics and Biogen $415 Million Deal Is Underway

Scribe Therapeutics, led by a team of CRISPR pioneers, is partnering with Biogen for a deal projected to be worth millions.

Rachel Curry - Author

Nov. 20 2020, Updated 12:38 p.m. ET

scribe therapeutics biogen crispr deal
Source: istock

Scribe Therapeutics has only been around since 2018, but the company is already making noise in the market. Experts in the CRISPR-based genetic medicine started the Berkeley, Calif. company. On Oct. 6, the company unveiled the fully integrated platform alongside a Biogen deal reportedly worth more than $415 million.

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scribe therapeutics and crispr
Source: istock

What is CRISPR?

Clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats, or CRISPR, is an immunity-boosting biotechnology designed to act at the genetic level. If an unwelcome gene attempts to weasel its way into a person's DNA, then CRISPR spaces out gene repeats in the DNA sequence to avoid widespread infection. 

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Scientists have tested CRISPR on Huntington's disease, but that's not the only disease it works on and it isn't just good for people. CRISPR works in animals, plants, and micro-organisms.

All jargon aside, two CRISPR pioneers have just been awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for 2020 for developing their "genetic scissors." The CRISPR pioneers are Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna. The award is a milestone in more ways than one—it's the first time two women have received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry together. 

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Doudna, of the Doudna Lab of RNA Biology at UC Berkeley, also played a hand in developing Scribe Therapeutics.

What is Scribe Therapeutics?

Scribe Therapeutics is a molecular engineering biotech company that works with CRISPR-based genetic medicine. With Doudna's influence, CEO and co-founder Benjamin Oakes runs the company.

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On Oct. 6, Scribe pulled the curtain on their custom gene editing platform, which scientists have been working to fine-tune for release since the company's inception. They were able to develop the platform thanks to a Series A funding round worth $20 million. Venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz, which has invested significantly in Airbnb, CipherCloud, Stripe, and many more companies, was the primary investor.

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About the Scribe Therapeutics and Biogen deal

At the same time, Scribe unveiled their genetic platform and announced the forthcoming deal with Biogen, Inc. Biogen's initial $15 million investment—plus $400 million in milestone investments—is going toward research in neurodegenerative diseases like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig's disease.

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An estimated 30,000 Americans live with ALS at any given time. ALS is one of two diseases that make a person eligible for Medicare before they reach age 65. The other disease is End-Stage Renal Disease (ESRD). 

biogen deal
Source: Biogen
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What is the Biogen's stock price today?

Scribe Therapeutics announced the Biogen deal on Oct. 6. So far on Wednesday, Oct. 7, Biogen stock (under the ticker symbol "BIIB" on the Nasdaq Exchange) has retained its existing volatility. The stock fell sharply the previous week. On Oct. 5, Biogen stock quickly reached its previous heights, with bearish undulations in the days since. At the market open on Oct. 7, the stock was at $281.70 per share—up just a few points from the previous close. The stock saw a slight increase in the mid-morning.

Biogen stock might not have caught up yet due to the fledgling nature of the Scribe Therapeutics deal.


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