Evotec signs U.S. academic deal to license CRISPR tech


Germany’s Evotec has penned a new deal with a leading U.S. university that will see it gain access to one of the hottest tickets in drug development: CRISPR Cas9 gene editing technology.

The Hamburg-based company, which runs CRO-like services alongside drug discovery projects, has agreed to the nonexclusive deal with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard to be able to use its CRISPR-Cas9 IP.

Evotec said in a statement that the tech, which can also be licensed out to other companies, will be wedded to its drug discovery offerings and R&D activities.

The focus of this pact will be for development of research tools and in target identification, and to further strengthen its post phenotypical screening target deconvolution platform, according to the company.

Dr. Mario Polywka, COO of Evotec, said “Alongside Evotec's comprehensive stem cell capabilities, the ability to offer CRISPR-Cas9 research tools emphasizes the Company's continuing approach to establishing cutting-edge technologies for the benefit of our partners and growing R&D pipeline.”

The CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing system allows researchers to target specific genes, to mutate these and achieve knock out or enhance the expression of these in living cells. It’s seen as the next big thing in research, with a particular hope that it can do some new and amazing things in oncology.

There are a whole host of biotechs and pharma companies involved in this space, as well as other academic centers--notably the University of Pennsylvania, which is set to run the first-ever human trial of the tech in cancer patients next year. But there are still many years and many hurdles to go before proving that the tech is safe and effective.

This marks a further transition for Evotec that sees it move more deeply into R&D, coming off the back of its first spinoff in March in the form of the early-stage firm Topas Therapeutics--which focuses on multiple sclerosis.

At the same time, the company also announced its financial results for the year, with group revenue growth of 43% to €127.7 million, with adjusted group EBITDA in 2015 amounting to €8.7 million.

- check out the release

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