- Scribe Therapeutics, a gene editing company co-founded by CRISPR pioneer Jennifer Doudna, announced Tuesday a research collaboration with Prevail Therapeutics, a subsidiary of Eli Lilly.
- Prevail will pay $75 million upfront to Scribe in exchange for exclusive rights to what Scribe calls its "CRISPR X-Editing" research, which will be used to develop in vivo therapies for neurological disorders.
- It’s the third major research collaboration for Scribe, which has previously struck deals with Sanofi and Biogen.
Gene editing offers the promise of more precise and more effective drugs for hard-to-treat diseases. Scribe's partnership with Sanofi gave the French pharmaceutical giant access to its CRISPR-based technology to help develop cancer treatments, while its collaboration with Biogen is aimed at developing medicines for ALS.
Scribe’s partnership with New York-based Prevail is its biggest deal yet. Attached to the deal is $1.5 billion in “biobucks,” payments to Scribe contingent on research under the collaboration hitting certain milestones.
“We don’t want our technologies to not help patients, so we have to find partners who can help us do the really difficult lifts of actually developing those drugs,” said Benjamin Oakes, Scribe’s CEO and co-founder.
The deal with Prevail gives Scribe an option to co-fund and share profits from one potential drug candidate that could emerge from the partnership. Oakes described their collaboration as “years in the making” to find how genome editing could be used to treat diseases the Lilly-owned company is targeting.
Prevail has two gene therapies in clinical trials for Parkinson's disease, Gaucher disease and a type of dementia. Its pipeline also includes undisclosed research programs for other neurodegenerative and neurodevelopmental disorders that are in earlier stages.
Scribe, based in Alameda, California, raised $120 million across its Series A and B rounds, then pulled in a combined $40 million in upfront payments from its research deals with Sanofi and Biogen.
“We'll look to resource the company pretty aggressively this year, despite the fact that we're in a comfortable situation from a growth perspective,” Oakes said in an interview with BioPharma Dive earlier this year.
The company was eyeing a potential IPO when it brought on a former Barclays executive as its CFO in 2022, but has not filed for one as the markets remain tight.