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CRISPR Therapeutics adds $38M to Series B pot, but lags behind Parker

by Ben AdamsFierce Biotech
June 24th, 2016

Rendering of a healthy human T cell, dyed blue against a black background.

Untitled Document

CRISPR Therapeutics has raised an additional $38 million as part of its Series B raise, bringing its total to an impressive $140 million--but the company will not be the first to bring the gene editing tech into the clinic, with this likely to come from Sean Parker’s research outfit.

The previous Series B investment was led by Vertex ($VRTX) and Bayer Global Investments with this second, oversubscribed Series B part 2 seeing several new investors, such as Franklin Templeton Investments and New Leaf Venture Partners, stump up some major investment. The biotech has also seen previous funding boosts from Glaxo ($GSK) and Celgene ($CELG). 

“We are very pleased to add these top tier institutional investors in the most recent closing of our Series B financing,” said Dr. Rodger Novak, CEO of the Cambridge, MA-based biotech. “Along with the recent investments made by our strategic partners, Vertex and Bayer, we believe this further investment represents a strong validation of our approach to translate the novel CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing technology into life-changing medicines for patients. We plan to use these proceeds to advance our current and future programs to the clinic and to expand our research and development organization in Cambridge, Massachusetts.”

Caribou Biosciences, Editas ($EDIT), Intellia ($NTLA) and Novartis ($NVS), alongside CRISPR Therapeutics, are all vying to be the first to get this preclinical tech into human testing.

But this week billionaire Sean Parker (net worth: $2.4 billion)--he of Facebook and Napster fame--has stolen a march on each of them after receiving the all-clear from the NIH to go ahead with the first-ever Phase I trial for CRISPR, which will from the labs of several major U.S. medical universities look to treat patients in the near future. 

The now-NIH-backed CRISPR study will focus on editing around 15 cancer patients' immune system T cells so that they are better at attacking cancer cells, with targets including myeloma, sarcoma, and melanoma.

The trial must however still be passed by the FDA, as well as the committees of the universities it will be tested within, but this is an important first step--and one CRISPR Therapeutics, and indeed no one else, has gained.

The biotech itself is seemingly still some way off entering the clinic. Editas is believed to be gearing up for a potential 2017 first-in-human trial for its CRISPR tech.

In addition to financing, CRISPR Therapeutics has also been ramping up the deals and late last year announced a tie-up with Bayer that saw the two create a 5-year JV to discover, develop and commercialize new breakthrough therapeutics to cure blood disorders, blindness, and congenital heart disease using CRISPR-Cas9 gene-editing tech. It's also signed a deal with Vertex, which has seen the company buy into the tech. 

Check out the release.

Image via Flickr/NIAID

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