Shares of Editas Medicine (NASDAQ:EDIT) lost over 16% last month, according to data provided by S&P Global Market Intelligence. The gene-editing pioneer announced that CFO Dr. Andrew Hack was departing the company effective March 1, 2019, which surprised investors, who were already a little skittish following a rough end of the year for the stock market.
While losing a top executive can sometimes be a sign of larger problems, the move at Editas Medicine doesn't seem to fit the bill. Both Dr. Hack and CEO Katrine Bosley noted that the upcoming transition from a preclinical company to one with ongoing clinical trials provided a natural opportunity for change. That makes sense, as it's common for executives to get shuffled around as companies move through different phases of development.
Therefore, investors can turn their attention to more important events. For instance, Editas Medicine and partner Allergan are now enrolling up to 20 patients in a phase 1/2 evaluating EDIT-101 in Leber Congenital Amaurosis type 10 (LCA10), a type of eye disease. The drug candidate will become the first in vivo CRISPR therapeutic administered to patients anywhere on the planet, meaning it will be administered directly into a patient's body.
The gene-editing pioneer is well-positioned for its transition into the clinic. It exited the third quarter of 2018 with $337 million in cash, cash equivalents, and marketable securities -- and that doesn't include a $25 million milestone payment earned from Allergan in November after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration gave the green light to begin clinical trials.
Shares of Editas Medicine lost over 20% in 2018, but the company delivered a solid year of progress. It's flush with cash and enviable strategic partners, is about to push its first drug candidate into clinical trials, and even has an under-the-radar relationship with a start-up developing next-generation CRISPR tools that could come in handy in the near future. Investors have much to look forward to in the year (and years) ahead, but they will need to remain patient until clinical data become available.