CRISPR Therapeutics share price surges by 16.96 per cent

Gains triggered by biotechnology firm’s successful trials are dampened by public share offering


Biotechnology firm CRISPR Therapeutics saw its share price surge by 16.96 per cent on Tuesday November 19, closing at $68.46. But the price fell in after-hours trading after the company announced a public offering of 4.25 million shares.

The upward movement was triggered after the announcement of positive trial results from CRISPR and its partner Vertex Pharmaceuticals on an experimental drug called CTX001. The gene-editing drug was tested in patients with two blood diseases, beta thalassemia and sickle cell disease.

Before receiving the treatment, the patient with beta thalassemia required 33 blood transfusions in two years. Since the first quarter of 2019, that patient has not required a transfusion.

The sickle cell patient did not experience any vaso-occlusive crises four months after the treatment, having had 14 in the previous two years. Both patients saw improved levels of white blood cells, platelets and haemoglobin, a key protein which transports oxygen in the bloodstream.

Founded six years ago and headquartered in Switzerland, CRISPR has been at the cutting edge of gene-editing and biotechnology. Following the initial success of this early trial, in partnership with Vertex it has outlined plans to study up to 45 patients with a variety of diseases for roughly two years.

Although the company saw its share price spike on the announcement of the trials’ success, closing with a market cap of $3.779bn (£2.93bn, €3.42), its share price dropped in after-hours trading following another announcement.

CRISPR announced an underwritten public offering of 4.25 million common shares, providing underwriters a 30-day option to purchase up to 637,500 additional common shares at the same price minus an underwriting discount. It remains to be seen how far CRISPR can go in its mission to revolutionise medical treatment and even the human condition. In business terms it looks set to thrive. Some commentators and senior industry professionals have voiced their concerns that this revolution might not be made available to all in society. Indeed only this week researchers who helped Pfizer to develop a breakthrough heart medicine objected to the drugmaker’s $225,000 a year price tag.

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