Contract research and manufacturing firm AMRI ($AMRI) has signed a deal with a pioneer of gene editing, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, to get its hands on the hot ticket of CRISPR-Cas9.
The highly sought-after tech, which could see the first-ever in-human trials begin this year in China and the U.S., is used to edit genes by leveraging an RNA guide molecule to enter into specific cells.
A protein called Cas9 then attaches to the DNA and essentially cuts it, all of which either gets rid of, completely removes or replaces a gene with a better strand of DNA. A host of diseases could be treated with this approach, with cancer likely to be the first target in the clinic.
AMRI has a non-exclusive license with the Broad Institute to use its tech as both an offering to R&D-led firms as well as for its own internal research. Financial terms were not disclosed.
“While many people know CRISPR for its potential to edit defective genes to cure disease, there are a range of other applications in drug discovery for which CRISPR has significant utility that are critical to our customers' R&D projects, notably drug target assessment and in vitro model development for lead discovery and optimization,” said Christopher Conway, SVP of discovery and development services at AMRI.
“We are committed to continue to build our services offerings so that we stay in the leading position with important technologies such as CRISPR to enhance the success of our customers' programs.”
AMRI has been on something of a deal spree in 2016, including in May buying up Italian API specialist Euticals for $358 million in order to expand its manufacturing footprint and European reach.
In February, it saw total revenue for 2015 hit $402.3 million--an eye-watering increase of 45% compared with total revenue of $276.6 million for the same period in 2014. This latest deal is set to expand its research offering, which it hopes will beef up its appeal to life science companies.
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