Editas, Adverum extend CRISPR ocular delivery alliance

Editas allied with Adverum to expand the range of ocular targets it could go after. (Laitr Keiows/CC BY-SA 3.0)(By Laitr Keiows (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons)

Editas Medicine has extended its CRISPR gene editing delivery pact with Adverum Biotechnologies. The amended agreement gives Editas until the end of September to exercise its option on the first of five ocular indications covered by the contract.

Adverum landed the original agreement in 2016. The deal gave Editas access to adeno-associated viral (AAVs) vectors to use with its gene editing capabilities in the treatment of up to five diseases. The idea was Adverum’s technology would get the payload to targets in the eye. Then, Editas’ technology would handle the gene editing.

That remains the focus of the deal. The change is Editas has paid $500,000 to buy itself a little more time working with Adverum. The revisions push the research stage of the agreement out to the third quarter of this year and reset the deadline for the option decision on the first indication to around the same time.

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If Editas pulls the trigger on the first option it will pay Adverum $1.3 million. Taking up the second option will cost Editas $1.5 million. And the other three indications each carry a $1 million option fee. The deadlines on the option dates now stretch out into 2020. 

Editas lined up those options in 2016 in the belief Adverum would expand the range of ocular targets it could go after. The CRISPR pioneer already had delivery technologies designed to get its drugs to targets in the eye. But in Adverum’s AAVs it saw well-characterized delivery vehicles that could open up new treatment possibilities. 

“Adverum has a distinctive technology and significant ophthalmology experience. Expanding our relationship is reflective of our strategy to continue investing in our platform in a highly selective manner,” Editas CEO Katrine Bosley said in a statement.

Shares in Adverum rose 63% in the five days leading up to the release of news of the extension.