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Editas Medicine, inc (EDIT) Q2 2021 Earnings Call Transcript

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EDIT earnings call for the period ending June 30, 2021.

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Editas Medicine, inc (EDIT -1.51%)
Q2 2021 Earnings Call
Aug 4, 2021, 8:00 a.m. ET

Contents:

  • Prepared Remarks
  • Questions and Answers
  • Call Participants

Prepared Remarks:

Operator

Good morning and welcome to Editas Medicine Second Quarter 2021 Conference Call. [Operator Instructions] Please be advised that this call is being recorded at the company's request.

I would now like to turn the call over to Ron Moldaver, Investor Relations at Editas Medicine.

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Ron Moldaver -- Investor Relations

Thank you, Daryll. Good morning everyone and welcome to our second quarter 2021 conference call. Earlier this morning, we issued a press release providing our financial results and corporate updates for the second quarter of 2021. A replay of today's call will be available on the Investors section of our website approximately two hours after its completion. After our prepared remarks, we will open the call for Q&A.

As a reminder, various remarks that we make during this call about the company's future expectations, plans and prospects constitute forward-looking statements for purposes of the Safe Harbor provisions under the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual results may differ materially from those indicated by these forward-looking statements as a result of various important factors, including those discussed in the Risk Factors section of our most recent Annual Report on Form 10-K, which is on file with the SEC.

In addition, any forward-looking statements represent our views only as of today and should not be relied upon as representing our views as of any subsequent date. Except as required by law, we specifically disclaim any obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements even if our views change.

Now, I will turn the call over to our Chief Executive Officer, Jim Mullen.

James C. Mullen -- Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer

Thanks, Ron, and good morning everyone. I'm joined today by several members of the Editas executive team including Mark Shearman, our new Chief Scientific Officer; Lisa Michaels, our Chief Medical Officer; and Michelle Robertson, our Chief Financial Officer.

I want to start off by providing some highlights from the second quarter and reviewing our upcoming milestones. Editas has had a strong first half of the year with excellent momentum across our platforms in lead programs.

The EDIT-101 BRILLIANCE trial for LCA10 is proceeding very well with the Independent Data Monitoring Committee recently endorsing enrollment of the first of two planned pediatric cohorts, and we've also started enrolling patients in the adult high-dose cohort. We are also expected to share initial clinical data from the EDIT-101 trial this September. This will mark the company's first-ever clinical data readout. The RUBY study of EDIT-301 for sickle cell disease is screening patients and we remain on track to begin dosing by the end of the year, and the pre-IND work for EDIT-301 in beta-thalassemia is progressing and we remain on track to file the IND before year end. Additional data supporting the unique properties of our proprietary Cas12a enzyme was recently published in Nature Communications and we plan to present new data on our multi-transgene knock-in proficiency at upcoming Cold Spring Harbor meeting.

These accomplishments further support the incredible potential of our gene editing platform. Our manufacturing capabilities for lead programs have advanced nicely and we're ready to manufacture all clinical supplies for the RUBY trial. We continue to progress our oncology programs, including our iPSC-derived NK cell program that we are advancing in pre-clinical studies. And finally, we continue to make headway on our remaining pre-clinical programs, including ocular diseases. Additional updates on those programs will be provided later this year.

On the leadership side, we had several important announcements last quarter. Dr. Mark Shearman joined the company as our new Chief Scientific Officer. Mark is an experienced executive who has brought multiple programs from ideation into and through the clinic and has led numerous successful partnerships. He brings an extensive track record of achievements in drug discovery and clinical development across multiple therapeutic modalities. Mark is two months into his new position and we're pleased to have him on the call with us today.

We're also delighted that Dr. Chi Li joined us as Chief Regulatory Officer. Chi brings an extensive resume guiding over 30 development programs through the regulatory processes, including multiple U.S. and global submissions, and he will be a critical part of our leadership team as we advance our pipeline.

And finally, we're pleased to announce the promotion of Bruce Eaton to our executive team as Chief Business Officer. Bruce has been involved with Editas in various capacities since 2015, starting as a consultant, then a research collaborator, and as a full-time leader of our Boulder site. He brings a successful track record, including more than 30 years of scientific operations, business development and corporate strategy experience in both public and private companies. He has a deep understanding of biochemistry and biophysics for the innovation and development of medicines. Bruce's expertise in the executive table will have a critical impact on how Editas continues to evolve.

So, overall, I'm extremely happy with the progress through the first half of the year and, with our expanded executive team, I have the utmost confidence that we have the right people in place to lead Editas to the next phases of the company's growth and toward long-term success.

With that, let me turn the call over to Mark for his first earnings call as Editas Chief Scientific Officer. Mark?

Mark S. Shearman -- Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer

Thank you, Jim, and thank you to everyone dialing in. So I'm thrilled to have joined Editas and to have the opportunity to lead an extremely experienced and dedicated group of researchers and scientists. My short time at the company has only reinforced my excitement in working with Jim, the rest of the leadership team and the exceptional people throughout the organization.

To give you a brief background about myself, I have almost 30 years of drug discovery and development experience and I've been fortunate enough to be a part of advancing around 15 drugs into clinical development. I began my career in academia and then moved to the corporate R&D side where I conducted research into Alzheimer's disease, other neurodegenerative disorders, as well as autoimmune diseases. For the last six years, I was the CSO at Applied Genetic Technologies Corporation, developing AAV gene therapies mostly for ocular diseases.

The impressive technology platform and the potential breakthrough capability of gene editing technology in the regenerative medicine space is what brought me to Editas. Most of my scientific work has revolved around ophthalmology, immunology and neurology; all key areas of development for this company. To be able to apply Editas' vast technological breadth toward my fields of expertise was truly a remarkable opportunity. I've always been intrigued by new aspects of science and technology that can improve the likelihood of being successful in drug development which open new treatment avenues for patients who otherwise might not have other options.

Editas' gene editing platform has the potential for both of those. It allows us to address certain diseases, not easily addressed with other treatments, while also developing differentiated new medicines. This company has, what I believe to be, an unparalleled capability to edit the human genome and I'm excited to be part of this mission to transform medicine.

So two examples illustrate this point. Firstly, the recent publication in Nature Communications, that Jim mentioned earlier, detailing an engineered AsCas12a nuclease, which we believe to be a significantly advanced enzyme with editing efficiency approaching 100% across sites in multiple cell lines and on-target specificity. This engineered nuclease alleviates many off-targeting editing concerns often observed with Cas9 enzymes, consequently, leading to an improved safety profile and making it ideal for complex therapeutic gene editing applications. It also greatly reduces the process chemistry challenges associated with the manufacturing of high-quality guide RNAs. This proprietary tool could be an important step forward in the development of novel therapies for serious genetic diseases such as sickle cell disease, as well as providing significant opportunity to create engineered cell therapies for cancer.

Secondly, the development of SLEEK technology, which stands for SeLection by Essential-gene Exon Knock-in. We are excited to announce that this new gene editing strategy enables us to achieve nearly 100% knock-in of functional transgene cargo's specific locations in the genome. We believe that this has broad applications, not only for substantially improving current gene editing cell medicines like CAR-T and CAR-NK cell therapies, but beyond those applications, it could have immense potential in protein replacement strategies, for example. Details of this exciting technology will be shared later this month in an oral presentation at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory's conference.

So having been with Editas for about two months now, I've outlined my high-level priorities as the CSO, which are: firstly, to continue to advance our current in vivo, ex vivo and cell-based therapy platforms; to progress our in vivo gene editing ophthalmology programs and further strengthen our existing pre-clinical pipeline; expand our world-class gene editing capabilities and the delivery technologies they rely upon; and, finally, to continue to grow and develop the scientific base and build upon our research and development team that is second to none.

With this impressive technology and world-class talent at Editas, I'm excited to discover and develop revolutionary new medicines to help people living with serious diseases.

With that, I'd like to turn it over to Lisa.

Lisa A. Michaels -- Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

Thank you, Mark. And I wanted to simply say I'm excited to have you join us as part of our team. Okay. As part -- I'd like to start with an update on the BRILLIANCE trial for EDIT-101 for the treatment of LCA10.

Last quarter, we completed dosing of the adult mid-dose cohort and, as Jim mentioned, we met with the study's Independent Data Monitoring Committee to review the safety data from the adult low-dose and mid-dose cohorts. The IDMC agreed with Editas that we could begin enrolling the first of the two planned pediatric cohorts. Now, this is an important step in the trial since LCA10 is an early onset retinal degenerative disease, which results in vision loss and blindness at an early age. And we believe that younger participants in the study could provide the best opportunity to achieve the greatest magnitude of clinical benefit. As a reminder, LCA10 is the most common cause of inherited childhood blindness and it affects three out of every 100,000 children around the world. So new therapeutic options are urgently needed and we continue to believe that a single administration would be preferred over a chronic dosing regimen by clinicians, parents and the patient community.

In addition to enrolling patients in the pediatric mid-dose cohort, we're also enrolling patients in the adult high-dose cohort. Both cohorts have planned to have four patients each and we expect to complete dosing of the two dose groups in the first half of next year.

We intend to present initial clinical data from EDIT-101 at the International Symposium on Retinal Degeneration in September. Now, this is an exciting milestone as it will be the first time that Editas will present clinical data at a meeting. The data will include safety and evaluation of the measures of biological activity from the six adult patients that have been treated in the first two dose cohorts. Now, the primary objective of the study is safety. Our goal is to develop a safe treatment that's not limited by dose-limiting inflammatory reactions, does not induce abnormal changes in retinal anatomy, and most importantly, does not result in loss of vision that the patient may have.

Our analysis of this early dataset will consider all the observations across the multiple measurements that have been collected and are currently being collected, which will be shown at the symposium. Representative endpoints could -- would provide evidence of productive editing, may include measurements of retinal responses to light, as well as clinically relevant outcomes such as reproducible improvement in patient reported visual acuity or in the ability to maneuver around objects at different levels of illumination. Following the main study protocol, we will monitor patients for both safety and for secondary clinical endpoints every three months for a year and continue follow-up for two additional years.

Collectively observing patient trends at each planned dose level over time will validate EDIT-101 as a viable medicine for LCA10 and also help de-risk our subsequent ocular programs. Very happy with how this trial has progressed during this year and we aim to maintain the same pace for enrolling and dosing patients in the next two cohorts.

Now, moving to our ex vivo programs, specifically EDIT-301. As we've said before, we believe that EDIT-301 has the potential to be a differentiated and important medicine for sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia patients. Our Phase 1/2 RUBY study of EDIT-301 is active and screening patients and we continue to add trial sites. Our CMC group is ready to support us with all clinical manufacturing required for this phase of the study. We also have received an approved Clinical Trial Application from Health Canada, which will expand the number of potential study sites and we remain on track to begin patient dosing by the end of 2021.

Additionally, we also remain on track to file our Investigational New Drug Application for EDIT-301 in beta-thalassemia by the year end. Providing further pre-clinical support of the potential benefits of EDIT-30, we presented additional data at the European Hematology Association Congress in June. This data showed that editing at the beta globin locus using our proprietary Cas12a enzyme results in a highly robust fetal hemoglobin induction in erythroid progenitor cells. Importantly, this occurred at a high level of specificity and no detection of off-target editing.

EDIT-301 mimics a naturally occurring mutation associated with hereditary persistence of fetal hemoglobin as opposed to other approaches that target BCL11A. This approach and the presented data support our view that EDIT-301 differentiates itself from other programs through its highly efficient editing and specificity, which we anticipate will result in optimal safety and efficacy. And by demonstrating robust and sustained fetal hemoglobin expression with both short and long-term safety, we aim to have a best-in-class medicine to treat sickle cell disease and beta-thalassemia that will hopefully lead to longer life spans for these patients.

Our clinical operations teams for EDIT-101 and 301 have already been working very tirelessly to move these programs forward. And I truly believe that the sooner we can get our medicines to patients, the sooner we can deliver on our promise to transform people's lives.

And, with that, I'd like to turn things over to Michelle to briefly run through the financial results. Michelle?

Michelle Robertson -- Chief Financial Officer

Thanks, Lisa, and good morning everyone. I'd like to refer you to our press release issued earlier today for a summary of our financial results in the second quarter and I'll take this opportunity to briefly review a few highlights. Comparing the first half of this year to last year, total operating expenses increased by approximately $25 million. This was primarily related to an increase in stock-based compensation of $14 million, as well as a $9 million success payment due under one of our institutional licenses that was expense on hold [Phonetic] during the first quarter of this year. The remaining increase is driven by our expanding clinical regulatory and manufacturing efforts to support both our BRILLIANCE and RUBY trials and the pre-IND work for EDIT-301 for beta-thalassemia.

Quarter-over-quarter, total operating expenses were $56 million in the second quarter compared to $63 million for Q1. Excluding stock-based compensation of $12 million in Q1 and $14 million in Q2 and the $9 million success payment in Q1, operating expenses were essentially flat in the first two quarters of this year.

Editas' balance sheet and cash position remained very strong. Our cash balance as of June 30, was $698 million compared to $723 million at the end of Q1. This capital will allow us to execute on our strategy to progress our clinical programs, further develop our pipeline and continue to build our internal manufacturing capabilities. We anticipate that this cash position will fund our operations well into 2023.

With that, I'll hand it back to Jim.

James C. Mullen -- Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer

Thank you, Michelle. The first half of this year has been very productive for Editas and the gene editing community. We continue to see important accomplishments in the field, including the successful demonstration of in vivo gene editing. This milestone reflects ongoing maturation of this novel therapeutic modality and immense potential for the technology. It supports the fundamental notion that a gene editing medicine administered directly to people can have a clinical benefit, and more importantly, this marks a monumental milestone for patients living with genetic diseases, validating the potential power of CRISPR gene editing as a major stride forward for the genomic field and people who we are trying to help.

As I've said on our previous call, it's truly a remarkable time to be involved in gene editing. I believe we have an obligation to utilize this once-in-a-generation technology to develop the best possible treatments for patients and promote progress within the scientific and medical communities.

We thank all of you for your support and interest in the company. And, with that, we'll open it up to questions and answers. Operator?

Questions and Answers:

Operator

Thank you. [Operator Instructions] Our first questions come from the line of Gena Wang with Barclays. Please proceed with your questions.

Gena Wang -- Barclays Capital -- Analyst

Thank you for taking my questions. I have two questions. The first one is regarding the LCA10 program and I think you mentioned the primary endpoint or like the clinical measure that you will share. Just wondering, like, you mentioned visual acuity, wondering, first, will you also share mobility core score and then how should we look at this in the context of the natural history when you share the data? And the second question is regarding the 301 for sickle cell disease. Just wondering, has the FDA partial clinical hold already resolved? And when you say on-track dosing of first patient, do you expect that will be resolved by before year end?

James C. Mullen -- Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer

Lisa, are you there?

Lisa A. Michaels -- Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

Gena, I apologize, I was on mute. I was trying not to cough into my microphone. So, to your first question, Gena, so regarding what's going to be reported for the EDIT-101 program moving into the RD2021 meeting, so I've already summarized, the meeting is -- that the primary outcome of the study really remains safety and dose-limiting toxicity. So the data and the cumulative safety data of the patients who have been dosed in the first two cohorts will definitely be presented at that meeting. What I want to remind people is that this is still an ongoing study moving forward over time and that we collect quite large number of observations with two primary goals.

The first one is for the purposes of being able to demonstrate that editing has actually occurred in the eyes and that would be a very interesting proof of concept for us to share regarding any potential changes that have occurred, either in the anatomy of the retina or also reflections of -- responses of the retina to light. The second one regarding the efficacy outcomes that you've alluded to, such as BCVA and also for being able to maneuver in a maze, I want to remind everybody, it's still quite early in the trial. The longest patient in the mid-dose cohort was only dosed in January. So we're still collecting data prospectively. It's certainly our intent to look across the entire range of measurements in each individual patient moving forward, and that we will be sharing at least data that will be comprehensively looking at both the possibility of being able to show both efficacy, as well as clinical outcomes of the study. Beyond that, I'm not yet prepared to give you more detail.

To the second question with 301, I just kind of remind everybody, it's not a complete clinical hold. It is a partial hold, basically, in order to be able to validate the clinical assays that we're using to correlate dosing to clinical efficacy. It does not interfere at all with their ability to move forward. We are able to dose the patients in the trial in an ongoing fashion, as already outlined in the protocol. And so, it's actually having no impact on our ability to move forward. We will need to have some patient data to correlate in order to be able to lift the hold with the agency later on.

Gena Wang -- Barclays Capital -- Analyst

Thank you.

Lisa A. Michaels -- Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

Yeah.

Operator

Thank you. Our next questions come from the line of Matthew Harrison with Morgan Stanley. Please proceed with your questions.

Costa Sean -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Good morning, everyone. This is Costa Sean for Matthew. One question from us on EDIT-101. Can you please remind us what the stopping criteria are in the high-dose cohort? Thank you.

Lisa A. Michaels -- Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

So the stopping criteria is very clear across all different dose cohorts and that is basically the dose-limiting toxicity. This would include inflammatory responses that cannot be controlled with the use of steroids and would also include any potential loss in visual acuity in any patient who has something that's measured.

Costa Sean -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Thank you.

Operator

Thank you. Our next questions come from the line of Phil Nadeau with Cowen & Company. Please proceed with your questions.

Phil Nadeau -- Cowen & Company -- Analyst

Good morning and congrats on the progress. Follow-up question for me on 101. In the -- in your corporate presentation, you mentioned secondary efficacy endpoints in 101s trial, including macular thickness, electroretinogram and pupillometry. It sounds like you're going to use those to figure out if there is sufficient editing going on in the retina. Just, I'm not all that familiar with those measures. Can you give us some idea of what changes you'd need to see to have confidence that there is a sufficient amount of editing, in vivo, that there could be ultimately improvements in visual acuity in your, kind of, patient population?

Lisa A. Michaels -- Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

Okay. So basically the way I've been dividing it up is -- and I think you summarized it actually quite well. The first one is a lot of electrophysiologic measurements, as well as analyzing physiologic responses to either different colors of light, pupillary responses to light being shined in the eyes, because these patients do tend to have either reduced or very sluggish responses. If we were to see consistent changes moving forward in any of those measures, that at least would be a signal to us that editing is taking place in the back of the eye. This is sort of my indirect way of measuring it without the ability to actually measure the protein that's being created in the eye moving forward.

As to the clinically relevant endpoints, I would agree with those that say that basically those things that impact the patients ability to function such as visual acuity or also the ability to maneuver around the maze would be the approvable endpoints and the ones that would bring those value to the patient.

Phil Nadeau -- Cowen & Company -- Analyst

Perfect. And then another follow-up question on 301. And the answer to the last question, it sounds like you'll need some clinical data to validate the assays necessary to remove the clinical hold. Do you have a definitive agreement with the FDA on the amount of clinical data that's necessary, the number of patients or duration?

Lisa A. Michaels -- Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

So at the moment we have at least proposed a matrix in order to be able to show how the -- across multiple different measures to show consistency of the product being given to the patients. The plan is to actually be able to present that to the agency once we have data to support it.

Phil Nadeau -- Cowen & Company -- Analyst

Perfect. Thanks for taking our questions.

Operator

Thank you. Our next questions come from the line of Yanan Zhu with Wells Fargo. Please proceed with your question.

Yanan Zhu -- Wells Fargo Securities -- Analyst

Thanks for taking my questions. So on the biomarkers, for lack of better words, the several measures that you will investigate to see -- to understand whether there's editing, do we know that those measures -- do they change by -- simply by a subretinal injection, for example, or do they change based on a placebo-type response? Do we have some understanding of how reliable those biomarkers are? Thanks.

Lisa A. Michaels -- Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

So -- and I invite Mark to jump in if he feels like he wants to add color to it, but I think one of the most important things for us is, first of all, the biologic markers are basically physiologic responses. So these are purely objective measures that we can actually measure physiologic changes that can take place. The concern about placebo is that it is unblinded. Both the treater and the patient both know which eye has been treated, and this is the primary reason why we're actually focusing on reproducibility. A one-time measurement that shows a significant change in vision is not going to be enough for us. It really needs to be able to be sustained across multiple different measures over time.

Mark S. Shearman -- Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer

Yeah. And if I could add -- thanks for the question, Yanan. As you know from covering the companies that are administering subretinal Ab, there is a possibility of slight changes in and around the surgical procedure as the retina reestablish and reattaches. Those are usually tracked by comparing the untreated eye and, as Lisa pointed out, over time, they generally settle down within a couple of weeks. And so all of that data gets collected and tracked and the intention is to show, over time, a real treatment effect that's separate from a surgical or any other intervention-related change.

Yanan Zhu -- Wells Fargo Securities -- Analyst

Got it. That's very helpful. And for -- you mentioned the longest follow-up in mid-dose cohort is since January. What about the shortest follow-up? Does -- has that patient finished -- will that patient have finished the three-month efficacy evaluation by the time of presentation?

Lisa A. Michaels -- Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

I can tell you we're coming down to the wire on that one. So I'm not --I need to be able to see what the timing of that visit is going to be.

Yanan Zhu -- Wells Fargo Securities -- Analyst

Great, thank you.

Lisa A. Michaels -- Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

Yeah.

Operator

Thank you. Our next questions come from the line of Cory Kasimov with J.P. Morgan. Please proceed with your question.

Cory Kasimov -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

Hey, good morning, guys. Thanks for taking the question. My questions on 101 and 301 were covered. So I wanted to ask about the iPSC NK program. And if you could just update us on the progress you're making there and upcoming milestones we should be on the lookout for. Thank you.

James C. Mullen -- Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer

Mark, do you want to handle that one?

Mark S. Shearman -- Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer

Yeah. So, we've indicated in the corporate presentation some of the changes that are being made. And we continue to develop the necessary editing for the final construct and also the differentiation profile and process for that. And so right now, that's really what we're focused on and we'll be providing updates again later in the year on the progress.

Operator

Thank you. Our next questions come from the line of Joon Lee with Truist Securities. Please proceed with your questions.

Joon Lee -- Truist Securities -- Analyst

Hi, thanks for taking our questions. For the cohort 2, are the patients enrolled also light perception-only, like cohort 1, or are they able to perceive hand motion or better in the cohort 2? And I have a follow-up on 301.

Lisa A. Michaels -- Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

Okay, so for 101, the way the protocol is basically written is we were able to -- based upon the safety that was seen in the first cohort, we were able to modify the protocol, so that we could proceed beyond just light perception patients. However, at each dose level, we do have one sentinel patient who is involved, primarily for the purposes of evaluating safety and making sure there's no inflammatory reactions that would limit treatment of further patients. So the first patient is light perception but each additional patient enrolled can have better visual acuity.

Joon Lee -- Truist Securities -- Analyst

Okay. So, actually, following up on that, if you look at the [Indecipherable] data, their visual improvement, including BCVA and mobility, is evident as early as months one and two. Is there any reason to believe that the effects of EDIT-101 would be any slower than the antisense mediated exon skipping? Curious if you have any thoughts on the kinetics of the onset of clinical sight between genome editing versus [Indecipherable].

Lisa A. Michaels -- Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

So I guess the way if you're thinking in terms of the absolute timing, we do know that from our non-clinical data that the optimal editing has occurred by about six weeks after injection. As Mark has alluded to, they're also because of the procedure, needs to be some healing that needs to take place in the back of the eye. So the first measurement that we would expect to see some change would be at three months. However, because we're really looking for consistent responses, as well as potential improvement, following it out to at least six months or longer is going to be what we're going to be looking at. But is there any -- it's hard to compare the two different modalities since they're very different approaches.

Joon Lee -- Truist Securities -- Analyst

Got it. And just sort of clarification, the cohort 2 will be four patients worth of data.

Lisa A. Michaels -- Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

So each cohort is planned to be four patients and then we'll evaluate.

Joon Lee -- Truist Securities -- Analyst

Okay, thank you.

Lisa A. Michaels -- Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

Yeah.

Operator

Thank you. Our next questions come from the line of Tiago Fauth with Credit Suisse. Please proceed with your questions.

Jonathan -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Hi, this is Jonathan on for Tiago. Thanks for taking our question. For EDIT-101, in light of the upcoming readout for the low and mid-dose cohorts for the adults, how should we be thinking about how these results may translate to the respective doses in the pediatric cohorts? What are the key differences we should be thinking about there? Thanks.

Lisa A. Michaels -- Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

I think we still have yet to, kind of, learn that in terms of the observations. In general, the maturity of the human eye after you get about three years of age, at least the anatomy and the size of the eye are relatively similar. Most of the changes that occur in the eye are more or less completed by about six to eight years of age. So I'm not -- I don't know that we're going to see a difference in terms of clinical response or safety. We'll have a chance to evaluate that as we move forward.

Jonathan -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Got you. Thank you very much.

Lisa A. Michaels -- Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

Yeah.

Operator

Thank you. Our next questions come from the line of Steve Seedhouse with Raymond James. Please proceed with your questions.

Steven Seedhouse -- Raymond James -- Analyst

Good morning, thank you. Slipping out of 301, I'm just curious, beyond editing efficiency, what advantages you might anticipate from using the AsCas12a in sickle cell, specifically, like cell viability, doubling time, manufacturing success rate, things like this, compared to legacy nucleases that may obviously correspond to improved clinical outcome? And then also on that Ultra nuclease, it looks like it's small enough to packaging the AAV5. Any thought on advancing that nuclease into LCA10 or in future ocular disorders? Is this the nuclease you're planning on using? Thanks.

Mark S. Shearman -- Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer

So maybe I can take those questions. So as you saw in the Nature Communications paper, the Cas12 -- engineered Cas12a or Cas12a Ultra has a lot of very favorable properties. You mentioned some of them, specificity, the on-target editing efficiency, potency all of that. One other factor, which is important for us also is the guide RNA size tends to be quite a bit smaller than the Cas9 guide and that's important when you're manufacturing these guide RNAs because the fidelity [Phonetic] decreases the longer the length of the guide, and so we feel that, that is definitely an advantage for intrinsic on-target editing.

And the second part of your question, of course, yes, we can set a Cas12a into an AAV and so we're looking to deploy that in some of the in vivo gene editing programs that we have ongoing and potential future ones and actively working on optimizing the potential configurations that you could use with respect to the guides. So all of that is in progress.

Operator

Thank you. Our next questions come from the line of Joel Beatty with Citi. Please proceed with your questions.

Jonathan Barrett -- Citi -- Analyst

Hi, this is Jonathan Barrett [Phonetic]. Thanks for taking the questions. For the LCA10 program in the pediatric mid-dose cohort, what ages and what status of disease course in the children do you anticipate in enrolling? And what could that mean for the ability to interpret clinical results compared to the first cohort, that will be reading out in September?

Lisa A. Michaels -- Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

So, we've got a little bit of a balancing act in all of this because the protocol does allow us to go as young as three years of age in the treatment of the patients. But I think one of the key outcomes that we want out of this is just not -- it's not just safety, but it's also the ability of the patient to be able to cooperate with the various different observations, because what we're looking for at the end of the day is a clear signal of efficacy. So the selection of the first patients who will be treated in the cohort are being considered about their ability to participate in the observations. And I think there's no solid drawn line in here, but if you think about your five or six-year old, whether they can sit through a long day of observations and walking through mazes, I think, is part of our consideration.

Jonathan Barrett -- Citi -- Analyst

I appreciate that. Thanks.

Lisa A. Michaels -- Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

Yeah.

Operator

Thank you. Our next questions come from the line of Jay Olson with Oppenheimer. Please proceed with your question.

Jay Olson -- Oppenheimer & Co. -- Analyst

Oh, hey, congrats on the progress and thank you for taking our questions. On the EDIT-101 data coming in September, can you talk about whether or not we should expect to see the clinical measurements fluctuate over the follow-up period or remain relatively consistent? And then for any safety signals, are there ways to tell whether potential side effects are coming from the administration procedure, the AAV vehicle or the gene editing? And then I had a follow-up on SCD, if I could.

Lisa A. Michaels -- Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

Okay. So, I guess, the first one is the consistency of measures. I just want to remind everybody, it's still relatively young days for that middle-dose cohort, because, like I said, the first patient was started in June and the next three patients were enrolled over the following five months. So for some of these patients, we won't have that much reproducible data just yet. As for the safety observations, it is one of the more important observations of the trial, not just short-term toxicity related to inflammation or problems related to the administration of the product, but also any changes that might occur in the eye moving forward. So that data is being collected prospectively.

Jay Olson -- Oppenheimer & Co. -- Analyst

Great. Thank you. And then for 301 in SCD study, can you just talk about your timeline for completing the target enrollment in that study? And then maybe comment on what the FDA might want to see in terms of a follow-up period in SCD, given some potential safety concerns from other companies using gene therapy?

Lisa A. Michaels -- Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

So the second half of the question is we are expecting and, in fact, it's sort of standard across the entire gene therapy and gene editing space that long-term follow-up for safety will be a requirement. So pharmacovigilance is going to be something that all of us have to be addressing moving forward. As to our timeline, it's still again early days. We actually are actively opening up sites. We have a number of patients who are undergoing screening, and I'm focusing mostly on getting my first patient dosed by the end of this year.

Jay Olson -- Oppenheimer & Co. -- Analyst

Great. Thanks for taking the question.

Lisa A. Michaels -- Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

Yeah.

Operator

Thank you. Our next questions come from the line of Madhu Kumar with Goldman Sachs. Please proceed with your questions.

Madhu Kumar -- Goldman Sachs & Co. -- Analyst

Great. Thanks for taking our questions. So when we think about EDIT-101 the high-dose versus the median low-dose, frame those doses relative to the pre-clinical dose range you described in your previous studies. And then kind of following from that, what [Technical Issues] you confidence that a higher dose of 101 could achieve better outcomes for LCA10 [Phonetic] patients? Thanks.

Lisa A. Michaels -- Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

Mark, do you want to try that one, or you want me to bite?

Mark S. Shearman -- Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer

No. The doses, as I'm sure you've already asked a similar question before, the doses chosen for the clinical study were obviously guided by the pre-clinical pharmacology and toxicology work that was done in mouse and non-human primate. The -- to address the question about whether we think a higher dose will lead to better editing, we have evidence, particularly in the humanized mouse model that, that would be the case. I think in non-human primates, there is some indication that, that could also occur. The data was, I would say, less clear in terms of the fact that the NHP guides were not performing as effectively as the human ones. But in principle, yes, the expression of the nuclease components and the editing -- productive editing increased with dose. And so going from the mid to high-dose, which is a factor of three, going into it, we'd have an expectation that, that could yield better results. But obviously, the clinical data will have to bear that out.

Operator

Thank you. Our next questions come from the line of Liisa Bayko with Evercore. Please proceed with your question.

Liisa Bayko -- Evercore ISI -- Analyst

Hi. Thanks for taking the question. I'm wondering, as you think about the kind of available visual field for these patients for EDIT-101, can you maybe describe, kind of with the way you're administering, how much is, kind of -- I don't know, in a way, surface area would be available for editing? And is there anything you can do to kind of expand that further?

Lisa A. Michaels -- Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

I guess, I'll start with -- go ahead, Mark. We can fight each other for this one if you want.

Mark S. Shearman -- Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer

Across different fields where companies have introduced a bleb up to, for example, 300 macula, you're covering about a 20 degree area, so completely covering the macula, which is the important component here for ability to restore cone function. So I hope that answers your question. But that's the intent with the current dosing paradigm.

Liisa Bayko -- Evercore ISI -- Analyst

Okay. So what you're saying is you can cover the entire macula with that -- with a bleb and so that should be sufficient in terms of like, kind of covering the visual field in a way.

Mark S. Shearman -- Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer

Well, that's covering the majority, if not all, of the cones expression, which are obviously concentrated in the macula and fovea region, plus the rods, which are also expressed more sparsely but expressed in that area. So again, this is, I would say, the standard approach to covering central retina AAV treatments.

Liisa Bayko -- Evercore ISI -- Analyst

Okay.

Lisa A. Michaels -- Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

And I would say that an LCA10 is somewhat of a central retina. Basically what's happened in many of these patients is there is a preserved area of normal cells where there hasn't been degeneration. And actually, that's in the central retina itself. So these are the cells that are most likely the ones that we're going to have the best effect from.

Mark S. Shearman -- Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer

And maybe just to repeat, I mean, companies have attempted to put the bleb either outside the mid-periphery, or in some cases, multiple blebs for the former approach. The disease quite often is heterogeneous in the periphery. So it's not that straightforward to actually carefully cover the degenerative rod area if that's what you were attempting to do. And then the challenge with the multiple bleb approach is, on the one hand, yes, you can cover a greater area, but then you're introducing multiple retinotomies and one of the things you absolutely want to avoid is reflux of the product because, as you may be aware, intravitreal dosing, which essentially what's been happening, leads to a greater likelihood of ocular inflammation. So those are the trade-offs that you're considering.

Liisa Bayko -- Evercore ISI -- Analyst

Okay. Okay, that's helpful. Thank you. And then for EDIT-301, as you kind of look at the data -- the clinical data coming out from companies like Vertex-CRISPR and where do you see the opportunity? I know, theoretically, the kind of advantages you're describing and those makes sense, but sort of in a practical form, as you kind of look at the data that's evolving, where do you see the opportunity to make a difference with EDIT-301? Thank you.

James C. Mullen -- Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer

Do you want me to take that one, Lisa?

Lisa A. Michaels -- Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

Well, you always answer it really well. I'm happy to take but you usually answer it really well. So...

James C. Mullen -- Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer

Well, yeah. So I'll take that one. This is Jim. I think you have to take a little bit longer view of what trials in sickle cell and beta-thalassemia are attempting to accomplish, which is ultimately long-term morbidity and mortalities or organ damage and extension of life, which is a big issue for these patients. So I think, as you see things unfold, yes, the initial data coming out of the other companies is actually impressive, and that's great for the patients. But I think we have to see how this unfolds over a longer period of time. And so I would expect that this field, there'll be long-term efficacy and safety studies used in this field. And that's how things will differentiate.

And then ultimately, as efficacy is demonstrated and the safety is demonstrated, the companies are going to go to work, and some already are, what are the conditioning strategies or basically how to make the treatment burden as light as possible for patients. And that may also relate to the drug, the simplicity of the drug, how much drug you have to deliver, how many cells you have to collect, etc., etc. So I think there's a number of other variables that will come into play as things unfold.

Operator

Thank you. Our next questions come from the line of Luca Issi with RBC. Please proceed with your questions.

Luca Issi -- RBC Capital Markets -- Analyst

Terrific. Thanks so much for taking my question. Congrats on all the progress. Two quick one. One from -- for Lisa and Mark, and the other one for Jim. So for Lisa and Mark, you're obviously using AAV to deliver your construct and I think the FDA is having an advisory committee meeting, September 2 and 3 to talk about the safety of AAV. So wondering, one, if you're planning to participate in that AdCom? And two, what are your expectation getting into that event?

And maybe, Jim, for you a bigger picture, what's the latest thinking of business development when you think about the three kind of big dimension of your pipeline, which is obviously the eye, hemoglobinopathies and oncology? Which of them you think are going to be core to Editas story going forward versus which one maybe you're willing to partner? And maybe on the in-licensing side, do you have any appetite to actually bolster your pipeline via BD? Thanks so much.

Mark S. Shearman -- Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer

So maybe I can take the first question. Yes, we will be participating in the FDA meeting to discuss some emerging issues with AAV. What I would say to answer kind of the second part of that is, people are using a vehicle multiple, very different approaches, and at significantly different amounts. And so I think the ocular space, one of the reasons why this was one of the first areas that people use AAV as a delivery vehicle is because you can -- there's a very defined anatomy, you can deliver the product very carefully to the right place, and it's at relatively low amounts, 100 to 1,000s of the dose that some of the systemic administration they're using.

So I think that meeting will be important. I think, some aspects of it around [Indecipherable] integration or immunogenicity are probably more relevant for the DMV and the hemophilia folks where they're using much higher levels and you do clearly have immune-related response. But the meeting will result in some guidelines and some further direction and that's obviously important to be aware of, and if it becomes relevant for Editas, we'll fully participate and be part of that.

James C. Mullen -- Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer

So, Luca, let me take the second part of that which is sort of BD strategy overall. So in addition to building the leadership group that I talked about early in this call, we have also been building depth below that leadership group. And so, for the first time and now, Mark is here, I'm thrilled to have Mark. Lisa is getting a little bit of bandwidth to start thinking about, sort of, the broader strategy. And we've appointed Bruce Eaton, that we've really got the team together now to really rigorously sort of think about strategy.

Now, let me take it to the sort of how we're thinking about BD. I have -- I've been in the industry a long time, and so I'm fairly pragmatic about what do we think we can execute and let's -- and what do we think we will ultimately need help with. So we've got a nice productive relationship with BMS on the T cell side of oncology. We've made, I think, pretty significant advancements on our iPSC-derived NK platform. But there's an area where I think going into clinical development, and certainly, further into clinical development and commercial, that we will be best served, if we have a partner in that. So that will be something that we will look to. It's always hard to judge exactly what the right moment in time is to do that. But that will be a high priority.

Similarly, with the 301 program, I feel very comfortable that we can advance that one clinically. But ultimately, we would want a commercial partner, particularly ex U.S. And certainly, I also know that, that means if you get a commercial partner, they're going to want to participate at some meaningful level in the late stage development. Right? So those would be sort of two bigger pieces.

With respect to thinking about in-licensing things, we are actively talking about that. I think, that can come in different flavors and forms. We have, as you know, what I consider the sort of the biggest challenge in gene editing is -- we can edit, we know that. It's, can you get the editing machinery to the right -- or again to the right cell type at the right efficiency with an appropriate safety profile? And so, when you think about our three programs, right, they are in some ways three different ways of delivering editing as a therapeutic. But we'll look at additional ones. So AAV, as good as it is, has its own limitations. We've seen other people with LNPs. For the right indications, LNPs and/or other different delivery modalities are certainly something we'd look at.

And then lastly, things that potentially complement either our technology or a therapeutic area where we have an interest, for example, ocular, where we have a number of programs, we'd certainly look to think about augmenting the depth of our pipeline there. Hopefully that helps.

Luca Issi -- RBC Capital Markets -- Analyst

Fantastic. Yes, thanks so much. Appreciate it.

James C. Mullen -- Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer

Yeah.

Operator

Thank you. There are no further questions at this time. I would like to turn the call back over to management for any closing remarks.

James C. Mullen -- Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer

Well, thank you very much, everyone. A lot of great questions today. Really appreciate all the interest. We will have, I know, a number of conversations here over the upcoming days, and I greatly look forward to talking with all of you in the future. Thanks again and I think we will call it a day. Appreciate your time. Take care. Bye.

Operator

[Operator Closing Remarks]

Duration: 53 minutes

Call participants:

Ron Moldaver -- Investor Relations

James C. Mullen -- Chairman, President, and Chief Executive Officer

Mark S. Shearman -- Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer

Lisa A. Michaels -- Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer

Michelle Robertson -- Chief Financial Officer

Gena Wang -- Barclays Capital -- Analyst

Costa Sean -- Morgan Stanley -- Analyst

Phil Nadeau -- Cowen & Company -- Analyst

Yanan Zhu -- Wells Fargo Securities -- Analyst

Cory Kasimov -- J.P. Morgan -- Analyst

Joon Lee -- Truist Securities -- Analyst

Jonathan -- Credit Suisse -- Analyst

Steven Seedhouse -- Raymond James -- Analyst

Jonathan Barrett -- Citi -- Analyst

Jay Olson -- Oppenheimer & Co. -- Analyst

Madhu Kumar -- Goldman Sachs & Co. -- Analyst

Liisa Bayko -- Evercore ISI -- Analyst

Luca Issi -- RBC Capital Markets -- Analyst

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