Shares of Editas Medicine Inc. (EDIT -5.13%), a preclinical-stage biotech developing drugs with CRISPR-Cas9 technology, are on the move following a positive fourth-quarter earnings report after the bell on Tuesday. The stock rose 12.5% in midday trading and was still up 9.7% at 3:21 p.m. EST on Wednesday.
Editas pleased investors with word its lead candidate, EDIT-101, for treatment of LCA10 remains on track for a clinical trial enabling investigational new drug (IND) filing in the middle of the year. The company's oncology-driven partner Juno Therapeutics (JUNO) intends to move a T-cell medicine to treat solid tumors associated with human papillomavirus later this year.
Celgene (CELG) should close on its $10 billion acquisition of Juno soon, which means there's plenty of funding available to keep a partnered candidate moving through regulatory hurdles as fast as possible.
Analysts at Barclays raised their price target for Editas to $46 and JMP Securities went even further and increased its target to $67. The latter implies a $3.0 billion market cap, which is an insane price to pin on any drugmaker that hasn't tried giving its drugs to people yet.
Editas intends to have at least two candidates in late-stage clinical trials by 2022. Hitting that goal would most likely support today's lofty new price targets, but the odds of getting there are historically slim. Less than a tenth of new drug candidates make it from preclinical testing to a late-stage trial. Until we have some safety and efficacy data from real patients, it might be best to wait until CRISPR mania dies down a bit.