6:06 PM
 | 
Jun 11, 2018
 |  BC Extra  |  Preclinical News

Investors skittish again over preclinical CRISPR studies

Investor response to a pair of papers linking CRISPR-based gene editing to cancer are the latest example of a market overreaction to preclinical news on the still-nascent technology. The papers unearth a potential safety concern based on studies performed in cells by groups at the Karolinksa Institute and Novartis AG (NYSE:NVS; SIX:NOVN), respectively.

CRISPR has yet to be tested in humans outside of China, and its known safety concerns include the potential for off-target toxicity due to cuts at unintended parts of the genome.

The new studies, published in Nature Medicine on Monday, showed editing efficiency of CRISPR-Cas9 was higher in cell lines or stem cells that lacked the functional tumor suppressor p53. The inference is that if the technology selects for p53-deficient cells, it risks the chance that edited cells will acquire cancer-driving mutations.

Neither study included data from animal models.

CRISPR editing companies lost a total of at least $664 million in market cap on Monday. CRISPR Therapeutics AG (NASDAQ:CRSP) fell $8.58 (13%) to $59.57 and lost $404.9 million in market cap, Intellia Therapeutics Inc. (NASDAQ:NTLA) dropped $2.67...

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