CRISPR gene-editing stocks are being hit hard by a broader biotech sell-off on Tuesday. Shares of CRISPR Therapeutics (NASDAQ:CRSP) were down 9.1% as of 12:05 p.m. EST. Editas Medicine (NASDAQ:EDIT) stock had declined 13.7%, while Intellia Therapeutics (NASDAQ:NTLA) shares had slumped 11.4%.
There wasn't a clear reason behind today's rout of biotech stocks. The biggest negative story in the biopharmaceutical industry centered on Arcturus Therapeutics' disappointing early-stage results for its single-dose COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
CRISPR Therapeutics, Editas, and Intellia tend to be more volatile than most stocks. None of the companies have products on the market yet. Their valuations are based solely on investors' optimism about their future prospects. When that optimism wanes, the stocks sink.
It's important to keep in mind, though, that nothing has actually changed about the prospects for any of these three gene-editing biotechs. In many ways, those prospects are as strong as they've ever been.
CRISPR Therapeutics and its big partner, Vertex Pharmaceuticals, reported encouraging new data earlier this month for experimental gene-editing therapy CTX001 in treating rare genetic blood disorders beta-thalassemia and sickle cell disease. Editas also announced positive preclinical data for its candidate targeting the same diseases a few weeks ago and filed for U.S. regulatory clearance to begin a phase 1 clinical study in treating sickle cell disease. Intellia presented promising preclinical data in early December for its experimental gene-editing therapies targeting acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and rare genetic disease alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency.
Each of these stocks is falling today based on no news directly related to their businesses or pipelines. That creates a buying opportunity for investors who remain confident about each company's direction.
What really matters for these three biotechs is the clinical progress for their respective pipeline candidates. And key developments are on the way for all three companies.
CRISPR Therapeutics expects to report additional data from early-stage studies of immuno-oncology candidates CTX110, CTX120, and CTX130 in 2021. Editas hopes to begin a phase 1 study evaluating EDIT-301 in treating sickle cell disease and continue patient enrollment in a phase 1 study of EDIT-101 in treating eye disease Leber congenital amaurosis type 10 (LCA10) in the new year. Intellia anticipates submitting for regulatory clearance to begin early-stage studies of NTLA-5001 in treating AML and for NTLA-2002 in treating hereditary angioedema next year.