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Intellia Moves Into Eye Treatments With SparingVision Deal

Company adds disease area to its search for solutions for blood disorders, cancer

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Barry Cohen
Oct 18, 2021

Summary

  • Intellia links up with French company concentrating on genomic medicine.
  • Follows path taken by many members of Big Pharma.
  • Intellia stands to earn as much as $200 million from each successful therapy.
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Intellia Therapeutics Inc. (

NTLA, Financial) is following in the footsteps of several members of Big Pharma that have hooked up with smaller, specialized biotechs to develop gene therapies to treat eye diseases.

The Cambridge, Massachusetts-based gene-editing company is linking up with SparingVision, an emerging French company concentrating on genomic medicine, the study of our genes and their interaction with our health. Genomics investigates how a person’s biological information can be used to improve their clinical care and health outcomes.

Under the pact’s terms, Intellia will confer exclusive rights to CRISPR technology to SparingVision, which will finance and head the development of therapies aimed at three ocular targets. Intellia benefits by getting 10% ownership in its equity partner.

Intellia and SparingVision will be competing with major pharmaceutical companies like Novartis (

NVS, Financial), Biogen Inc. (BIIB, Financial), Johnson & Johnson (JNJ, Financial) and AbbVie Inc. (ABBV, Financial) through their connections with eye-focused biotechs.

Intellia is forging another path to success with the deal. Up until now, the company has been searching for one-time fixes for blood disorders, uncommon diseases and cancer. In late June, I reported that the New England Journal of Medicine published the positive results of the company’s gene therapy to treat transthyretin amyloidosis.

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ATTR is an often deadly condition that can cause damage to the heart and nerves. If Intellia’s drug continues to demonstrate effectiveness in the ongoing trial and is eventually approved, it will likely challenge approved treatments from Alnylam Pharmaceuticals Inc. (

ALNY, Financial), Ionis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (IONS, Financial) and Pfizer Inc. (PFE, Financial).

At that time, the news boosted Intellia's share nearly 50% to more than $131, just about where it trades today. According to the 18 analysts offering 12-month price forecasts to CNN Money, investors can’t lose on the stock and have substantial upside. They assign the company a median target of $174, with a high estimate of $250 and a low estimate of $130. The stock is rated a buy.

Hedge funds are bullish on the stock. The number of long hedge fund bets increased by 12 recently, bringing the total to an all-time high of 41 at the end of the second quarter, reported Insider Monkey.

The deal with SparingVision pits Intellia in head-to-head competition with Editas Medicine Inc. (

EDIT, Financial), which recently released results from its first clinical trial of a CRISPR-based gene editing treatment that attempts to fix a different form of inherited vision loss.

Intellia stands to earn as much as $200 million from each therapy that hits specific development and commercial targets. The company could also pocket royalties on future sales of any resulting products. Intellia also has the option to claim U.S. commercialization rights to products from two of the three collaboration targets, the company said.

Besides the three targets, Intellia and SparingVision will investigate ways to find solutions to the challenge of delivering CRISPR-based gene editing treatments to the retina. Intellia will also be able to use technological advances made through this collaboration for any targets not included in the original deal.

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I am/we are Long JNJ and ABBV.
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