Genzyme vet joins CRISPR player Editas as CMO

CRISPR

Editas Medicine ($EDIT) has nabbed former VP of rare disease clinical development Dr. Gerald Cox from Sanofi Genzyme ($SNY) to become its CMO. The move comes as the genome editing company plans to move into the clinic next year.

The Cambridge, MA-based company nabbed another pharma exec earlier this year, the former VP of genetically defined diseases and genomics at Bristol-Myers Squibb ($BMY), Charles Albright, to serve as its CSO.

“Gerry comes to Editas with an international reputation for excellence in the development of therapies for genetic diseases, and he has extensive experience in all stages of clinical development and engagement with regulatory agencies,” said Editas President and CEO Katrine Bosley in a statement. “In addition, his background as a clinical geneticist is ideal for the development of genome editing medicines.”

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Cox was with Genzyme for more than 15 years, prior to its 2011 acquisition by Sanofi. He played a key role in the development and approval of treatments for lysosomal storage disorders, according to Editas.

Editas is making advances on hiring as it’s also been busy on the deal-making front. It did a big deal with Juno Therapeutics ($JUNO) last year to use Editas’ genome editing tech, including CRISPR/Cas9, with Juno’s chimeric antigen receptor T cell and high-affinity T cell receptor therapies for candidates in oncology.

Most recently, it did a deal with microcap Adverum Biotechnologies ($ADVM) to create up to 5 inherited retinal disease treatments by bringing Editas genome-editing tech to Adverum next-generation adeno-associated viral (AAV) vectors.

All this is despite the fact that the intellectual property around genome editing remains in dispute, ensnaring the future of this sort of work not only for Editas but at other companies including CRISPR Therapeutics, Caribou Biosciences, Intellia ($NTLA) and Novartis ($NVS).

Editas has previously said it’s comfortable with its intellectual property position, and this summer it did a deal with Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) to further shore that up. Ultimately, the company expects to see more movement on the issue during the first quarter of next year.

“There are a number of process, steps that have occurred throughout the year, and will continue through the balance of 2016,” Editas’ Bosley said on an August conference call.

She continued, “We would expect that in Q1 of next year, those various procedural steps will have judgments from their patent office. And then, if there is still an interference at that point in time, it would then move into the phase with a determined priority.”

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