ElevateBio cuts a deal for Life Edit, adding genome engineering tech to support gene therapy pipeline

ElevateBio has enjoyed a close look at Life Edit Therapeutics over the past 11 months, with overlaps in the management team and involvement in its portfolio of cell and gene therapy companies giving it a chance to see how the genome editing specialist ticks. The experience has persuaded ElevateBio to buy the business.

Life Edit spun out of AgBiome in October 2020, enabling the parent company to apply its genome engineering technology to human health while remaining focused on agricultural applications. The next month, Life Edit said it was joining ElevateBio’s cell and gene therapy companies, positioning it to advance its internal pipeline and spread use of its technology to other startups in the portfolio. The arrangement saw ElevateBio executives take up spots in the Life Edit C-suite.

After less than a year working that way, ElevateBio has decided to buy AgBiome’s stake in Life Edit and take control of the genome editing startup. Mitchell Finer, CEO of Life Edit and president, R&D at ElevateBio, made the case for combining the businesses in a statement to disclose the news.

“Genome editing is a central component of all cell and gene therapy development, and access to novel RNA-guided nucleases and base editors that offer specificity and broad genome coverage will be critical. We believe Life Edit's technology is one of the most versatile in the field, opening up enormous potential. This integration will also enable Life Edit to have greater access to ElevateBio’s drug development and manufacturing capabilities as we build and advance the pipeline,” Finer said.

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The pipeline will initially focus on in vivo gene therapies to treat neurological conditions, with the longer-term goals including development of cells that go undetected by the immune system. Little is known publicly about the pipeline, but ElevateBio has been more forthcoming about the capabilities it has built up to support portfolio companies such as late-phase cell therapy company AlloVir. 

With third-party cell and gene therapy capacity overstretched by the boom in the field, ElevateBio set up shop to provide development and manufacturing capabilities. The acquisition of Life Edit will support that side of the operation by expanding the toolkit that ElevateBio can provide to partners.