Biogen Pursues Another Neuro Target With Scribe

Biogen Pursues Another Neuro Target With Scribe
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Biogen has exercised an option for an additional disease target in gene therapy with Scribe Therapeutics. This is part of the companies’ ongoing research collaboration to develop and commercialize CRISPR-based therapeutics.

“At Scribe, we continue to push the boundaries of molecular engineering to fulfill the profound promise of CRISPR-based therapeutics and are pleased to have our collaborators at Biogen continue to support and expand our collaboration towards this goal,” said Benjamin Oakes, CEO and co-founder of Scribe.

In 2020, Scribe announced a collaboration with Biogen to develop and commercialize CRISPR-based therapies that address an underlying genetic cause of ALS. Under the terms of the collaboration, Scribe will work with Biogen to create therapeutics for genetically-driven ALS, with an option to pursue an additional neurological disease target with high, unmet need. Scribe will receive $15 million upfront and is eligible for more than $400 million in potential development and commercial milestone payments between the two targets of interest. Scribe is also eligible to receive tiered, high single digit to sub-teen royalties.

Founded to address the issues of safety, delivery, poor editing outcomes, and an uncertain intellectual property landscape that limits current CRISPR technologies, Scribe’s X-editing platform aims to create custom therapeutic molecules to provide greater activity, specificity, and deliverability.

“We are building a future where treating the underlying causes of disease will be achieved by best-in-class, custom engineered technologies,” said Oakes, when the Biogen deal was initially announced. “With molecular engineering at our core, we aim to move beyond discovery towards scalable biological design that can precisely address previously intractable genetic maladies.”

Scribe reports it has engineered CRISPR enzymes found in nature into millions of novel variants with ideal therapeutic attributes to enable highly effective and specific in vivo applications. The company continues to engineer additional technologies as part of its continually expanding integrated platform while developing its pipeline to target various areas of unmet need.

“Scribe is applying deep, multidisciplinary engineering expertise to develop the custom tools and applications needed to confront genetic diseases,” said Behzad Aghazadeh, managing partner at Avoro Ventures and Avoro Capital Advisors, in March 2021 when the company raised $100 M in a series B. “We are pleased to support Scribe’s accomplished leadership team in their continued growth of the platform and their dedication to fulfilling the promise of CRISPR gene editing.”

Scribe was founded by molecular engineers Oakes, Brett Staahl, David Savage, and 2020 Nobel Laureate and CRISPR co-inventor Jennifer Doudna. The company is developing custom engineered enzymes and delivery modalities as part of a proprietary platform for CRISPR-based genetic medicine. The company is backed by investors including Andreessen Horowitz, Avoro Ventures and Avoro Capital Advisors, OrbiMed Advisors, Perceptive Advisors, funds and accounts advised by T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc., funds managed by Wellington Management, RA Capital Management, and Menlo Ventures.

“Scribe’s engineering approach has revolutionized industry expectations for blueprinting and creating CRISPR-based therapies,” said Vijay Pande, general partner at Andreessen Horowitz, at the time the initial Biogen deal was inked. “By accelerating the shift from an artisanal discovery approach to a fully industrialized one, the company is poised to fundamentally transform how we treat and manage genetic diseases at scale.”