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Editas Medicine, Vertex Strike Nonexclusive License Deal on Cas9 Gene Editing Technology

NEW YORK – Editas Medicine and Vertex Pharmaceuticals this week said they've inked a deal that gives Vertex a nonexclusive license to use Editas' Cas9 gene editing technology for ex vivo editing of sickle cell disease and beta thalassemia gene therapies, including Casgevy (exagamglogene autotemcel), that target the BCL11A gene.

Recently, regulators in the US approved Casgevy for treating sickle cell disease, and regulators in the UK approved it for both sickle cell disease and beta thalassemia, making it the first CRISPR therapy to receive market authorization. 

Editas holds the exclusive licenses to certain patents for CRISPR technologies when used to make human medicines, including a Cas9 patent estate owned and co-owned by Harvard University, the Broad Institute, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and the Rockefeller University.

Under the terms of the deal, Editas is entitled to a $50.0 million upfront cash payment and is eligible for an additional $50.0 million contingent upfront payment as well as annual license fees ranging from $10.0 million to $40.0 million that include sales-based annual license fee increases through 2034. Editas will have to pay a mid-double-digit percentage of amounts received from Vertex in this deal to the Broad Institute and the President and Fellows of Harvard College.

Editas said the upfront payment, licensing fees, and contingent upfront payment from this licensing deal plus its existing cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities will extend its cash runway into 2026.