In spite of the looming patent dispute of CRISPR, Editas Medicine look set to go public in 2016

After selling $94.4 million in stock this week,  Editas Medicine looks set to be the first US company to go public this year. This news comes in spite of the looming patent dispute over CRISPR, the gene-editing process central to Editas’ commercial success.

Ahead of the IPO the company made a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission outlining a number of significant risks. For example, governments may legislate to restrict how CRISPR can be used due to concerns around safety and ethics. “Adverse public perception of genomic medicine, and genome editing in particular, may negatively impact regulatory approval of, or demand for, our potential products,” the filing said.

Co-founder of Editas, Feng Zhang, is also at the centre of a patent dispute over the CRISPR protocol with UC Berkeley scientist Jennifer Doudna. Earlier this month the US patent office opened an interference investigation that could see Zhang stripped of his existing patents for the technology. As explained in the filing from Editas: “Adverse public perception of genomic medicine, and genome editing in particular, may negatively impact regulatory approval of, or demand for, our potential products.”

While Editas has licensed its technology from the Broad Institute of Harvard, where Zhang and his team are based, marketplace rivals CRISPR Therapeutics and Intellia Therapeutics are looking to capitalise on the CRISPR intellectual property from Doudna’s UC Berkeley. 

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