Allergan signs deal with Editas for gene-editing-based eye treatments

The Allergan logo is seen in this photo illustration November 23, 2015. To match special report USA-FDA/CASES REUTERS/Thomas White/Illustration/File Photo

(Reuters) - Allergan plc said on Tuesday it would get exclusive access and the option to license up to five of Editas Medicine Inc’s experimental gene-editing-based eye treatments under a research and development deal between the two companies.

The five eye programs include Editas’s lead drug, which is currently in pre-clinical development, to treat a rare, inherited eye disorder called Leber Congenital Amaurosis, the two companies said in a joint statement.

Editas’ gene-editing technology is called CRISPR and it is expected to revolutionize the treatment of genetic diseases. CRISPR works as a type of molecular scissors that can trim away unwanted pieces of genetic material, and replace them with new ones.

Last month, the Broad Institute, a biological and genomic research center affiliated with MIT and Harvard, won a landmark ruling to keep valuable patents on CRISPR.

Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Editas Medicine licenses CRISPR-related intellectual property from the Broad Institute.

Allergan said it would pay Editas $90 million upfront towards the development of the five candidate programs.

Editas had cash and cash equivalents of $185.3 million as of Dec. 31. It spent nearly $27 million on research and development in the latest quarter.

Editas’ shares were up 7.6 percent at $26.80 in premarket trading. Allergan’s shares were off 0.7 percent at $239 in light trading.

Reporting by Divya Grover in Bengaluru; Editing by Savio D’Souza