- Editas Medicine will sell its cancer cell therapy work to privately held Shoreline Biosciences as part of a company-wide restructuring that’s already led to layoffs and cutbacks in spending.
- The deal, announced by the companies Thursday, has Shoreline acquiring Editas’ natural killer, or NK, cell therapy franchise, including a preclinical-stage treatment for solid tumors. Shoreline will also license Editas’ gene editing technology for use in modifying NK cells and macrophages, another type of white blood cell.
- Shoreline will make an undisclosed upfront payment to Editas, and has promised additional payments should its work reach certain development and commercial milestones. Shares in Editas fell by nearly 4% Thursday morning on news of the deal.
Gilmore O’Neill, the company’s fourth CEO since 2019, recently revealed a strategic shift that will refocus Editas’ resources on an experimental treatment for sickle cell disease and beta thalassemia, as well as early-stage research on inside-the-body gene editing. As a result, the company said it would stop investing in its inherited eye disease medicines and in NK cell therapies, and instead search for a partner to take them forward.
“We needed to refine our focus so we can actually move therapies efficiently into and through the clinic,” said O’Neill in a recent interview. “Working across multiple platforms ... was not possible for a company of our size.”
With the Shoreline deal, Editas now has a partner for the latter part of its discontinued research, although the financial upside isn’t clear from the companies’ announcement Thursday.
“The deal does not change [Editas’] 2025 cash runway guidance, and involves no incremental reduction in [operating expenses], limiting financial impact,” wrote Mani Foroohar, an analyst at SVB Securities, in a note to clients.
“We think the key controversy driving shares remains whether [Editas] can produce data for in vivo editing targets that are best- or first-in-class,” Foroohar added, referring to inside-the-body editing.
Based in San Diego, Shoreline is focused on developing off-the-shelf NK cell- and macrophage-based immunotherapies. It’s raised $183 million in venture funding and secured partnerships with Gilead’s Kite unit and with BeiGene.