Shire and Sangamo break up their gene-editing partnership

Sangamo CEO Edward Lanphier

Shire ($SHPG) and Sangamo Biosciences ($SGMO) are going their separate ways after three-plus years of collaboration in gene editing, with each company hanging on to the programs best aligned to its goals.

The pair joined up in 2012 when Shire paid $13 million up front and promised undisclosed millions more to work with Sangamo on so-called ZFP therapeutics, lab-crafted proteins designed to interrupt DNA sequences and correct genetic defects. Now they're splitting up, with Shire handing back the rights to early-stage, ZFP-powered treatments for hemophilia A and B but keeping some Sangamo-discovered leads in Huntington's disease and another undisclosed target.

The arrangement, Sangamo said, allows both companies to focus on their strengths. Shire, a leader in rare diseases, is well-equipped to execute in Huntington's, a neurodegenerative disease affecting about 1 in every 10,000 people. And Sangamo, which "has greatly benefited from our collaboration with Shire," can now "accelerate the development of our potentially curative hemophilia A and B programs," CEO Edward Lanphier said in a statement.

The company plans to file an IND for its hemophilia B candidate by year's end, moving forward with a lysosomal storage disorder program on the same timeline.

Under the new agreement, each company bears sole financial responsibility for its programs, and there are no milestone payments due down the line. But Sangamo has granted Shire a right of first negotiation on the hemophilia programs, giving its ex-partner the chance to buy back in.

- read the statement