USA – Intellia Therapeutics, based in the US, has announced the acquisition of a startup, Rewrite Therapeutics, a tiny and largely unknown University of California, Berkeley spinout for US$45 million in cash and US$155 million in milestone payments.

The deal will see Intellia Therapeutics add Rewrite Therapeutics’ DNA writing platform and expand its CRISPR functionality. Intellia will gain access to Rewrite’s novel DNA writing technologies as a result of the acquisition.

The agreement is the latest in Intellia’s efforts to broaden its gene-editing toolkit. The company’s focus on developing therapeutics using CRISPR technologies led it to Rewrite, whose patented approaches enable more specific editing strategies.

These strategies include targeted corrections, insertions, deletions, and the full range of single-nucleotide changes, which could open up new avenues for editing disease-causing genes and expand the therapeutic potential of genomic medicines.

Furthermore, Rewrite claims to have developed a method that has the potential to improve the efficacy of genome editing in non-dividing cell types, which Intellia recognizes as a key challenge in some platforms.

Intellia on the other hand will provide technology that is “highly complementary” to its CRISPR/cas9 and base editing technologies.

Intellia claims Rewrite Therapeutics can perform a variety of genetic edits that are currently limited to prime editing and a couple of other technologies.

We could not be more excited to add Rewrite’s additional capabilities to our growing platform, offering us new possibilities and the potential to target diseases beyond those currently being explored in our pipeline,” said John Leonard, president and CEO of Intellia.

Intellia, which became the first company to demonstrate that CRISPR can be used directly in patients last year, is hoping that a little-known startup can help it stay on the cutting edge.

Shakked Halperin and David Schaffer founded Rewrite in 2016 after developing the first CRISPR-guided DNA polymerization technology that can target specific changes in genomes without causing double stranded breaks.

Halperin expressed his enthusiasm for the transition and the opportunity to fully utilize the treatment’s potential using Intellia’s resources.

Intellia’s lipid nanoparticle (LNP) technology and adeno-associated virus (AAV) vectors could be used to deliver Rewrite’s technology.

Even as two of the first generation of CRISPR companies demonstrated impressive clinical results, they have faced a growing threat: new technologies such as base and prime editing, which can perform more versatile and potentially safer editing.

Halperin is the company’s president and CEO, and he invented Rewrite’s gene-editing platform. Civilization Ventures and Prefix Capital are both venture capital firms that have invested in Rewrite.

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