Pharmaceuticals giant Novartis has decided to help bankroll Berkeley; California based Caribou Biosciences. Caribou is one of the pioneers in the development of cutting edge CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing tech.Other investors include Fidelity Biosciences, Mission Bay Capital, 5 Prime and Jennifer Doudna, the founder of the company.
In the first round of investment, $11 million were invested in Caribou. Caribouplans to use the money for advancement of technology highlighted in projects at the University of California and University of Vienna.
Jennifer Dounda, the founder of Caribou Biosciences, and her colleague Emmanuelle Charpentier recently won the Breakthrough Prize for their work with CRISPR-Cas9.
Caribou co-founded Intellia, which got into a landmark partnership, with the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research. Novartis has shown its willingness to bankroll promising new tech and helped seed Intella.
Novartis AG (ADR) (NYSE:NVS) had earlier expressed its willingness to work on CAR-T, a treatment that is the latest breakthrough in cancer research.
Bigger pharmaceutical companies usually buyout or bankroll smaller research firms who come up, with breakthrough or develop new tech so as to incorporate them in their research.
CRISPR-Cas9 is a small but highly controversial field. Doudna, a structural biologist herself, was earlier credited as a co-founder of Editas, another CRISPR-Cas9 player. She later split from Editas.
Doudna worked on Gene editing, with Charpentier, who backed the CRISPR Therapeutics in Switzerland.
Though the work of Doudna and Charpentier is in the early stage, yet the work on reengineering genes has caught the attention of the industry. If the results are correct and DNA splicing works as is claimed by the pioneers, then it will lead to major breakthrough. There is, however, some visible dispute among the scientists over who owns the IP involved.
According to Robert Weisskoff, CRISPR-Cas9 technology is one of the most promising researches, and Caribou is the leader in the newly emerging field. Weisskoff, also a Board member at Caribou stated that the company will translate the gains to a numerous commercial application.