2 gene editing biotechs team up to improve on delivery with $45M upfront

The gene-editing scene is heating up with the big players rising to the top, see Intellia, CRISPR Therapeutics and more. Now, two small biotechs are going to try and up their game together in a research deal worth $45 million. 

Myeloid Therapeutics and Prime Medicine have signed an exclusive option and research collaboration to develop Myeloid’s RNA-based gene-editing technology, dubbed “RetroT." Prime is shelling out $45 million upfront for the opportunity.

The biotechs—both based in Cambridge, Massachusetts—will use the technology that has applications in gene editing and delivery and may be used alongside prime editing. The goal is to create gene-editing technology that is more programmable. 

If successful, Prime will have the exclusive option to control the intellectual property and expand upon its existing platform. Myeloid will also be eligible to receive undisclosed milestone and option exercise payments, along with sales-based royalties.

Myeloid has previously worked on cancer, but the new partnership will allow the company to expand into other indications and cell types, according to CEO Daniel Getts, Ph.D. The two companies will work to extend RetroT’s utility to multiple cell types and then translate the technology into human clinical products.

RetroT can deliver genetic sequences and integrate enzymes into a single strand of DNA, allowing for the delivery of larger pieces of DNA into the genome. This could expand the type of genetic errors that can be corrected via gene editing therapies, according to Myeloid. 

Prime launched in July 2021 with $315 million in the bank to develop a new kind of gene editing. The company likens its approach to the “search and replace” function on a word processor, with the ability to correct disease-causing mutations without making double-stranded breaks in the DNA. Prime already has a partnership with Beam Therapeutics, which in January signed a $300 million deal with Pfizer that could net $1.35 billion down the road.