Healthcare is undergoing a genomics revolution, and Intellia Therapeutics (NTLA 1.17%) is leading the way. Founded by Jennifer Doudna, who won the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her CRISPR-Cas9 genome editing discovery, Intellia shook the world last month. 

In a June 26 press conference, Intellia and its partner Regeneron (REGN 0.32%) announced "the first-ever clinical data supporting safety and efficacy of in vivo (in the body) CRISPR genome editing in humans." That rather bland scientific statement should actually send a shiver down your spine. It's now possible to use a "one-and-done" procedure to treat and even cure some deadly genetic diseases.

Aerial view of people pointing at a diagram of DNA and talking around a table.

Image Source: Getty Images.

The dawn of a new era

Intellia CEO John Leonard said the advancement "unlocks the door to treating a wide array of other genetic diseases with our modular platform, and we intend to move quickly to advance and expand our pipeline. With these data, we believe we are truly opening a new era of medicine."

The market took notice, with shares of Intellia trading up 68% since the announcement. Other companies working on similar advancements also popped, including Beam Therapeutics (BEAM -1.69%), up 20%, and Editas Medicine (EDIT -1.08%), up 15% over the same period.

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Taking advantage of the increased market value, Intellia raised approximately $690 million in cash by quickly issuing 4.8 million shares of common stock at $145 per share on July 2. This new cash haul adds to the $601 million already on the balance sheet at the end of Q1. Intellia will need the money to fund operations -- there will be several years of additional clinical trials and regulatory review before the new therapy will generate revenue. The company had a net loss of $46.2 million in the first quarter of 2021, so the new funding provides substantial room to absorb additional expenses as the pipeline progresses.

As part of an updated collaboration agreement, Regeneron has exclusive rights to five additional in vivo liver targets and up to 10 ex vivo (out of body) products made using other cell types. These pipeline targets are undoubtedly being ramped up given the latest promising clinical trial news.

Breaking the code

For those who have been watching biotech developments, this is all pretty heady stuff. In his recent New York Times best-seller The Code Breaker, author Walter Isaacson describes CRISPR as changing "the future of the human race." If you're unfamiliar with the book, you might start by watching healthcare bureau chief Corinne Cardina interview Isaacson on Fool Live.

To put all of this into some perspective, CRISPR is to genomics what the transistor was to electronics -- a discovery so transformative it changes everything that comes after it.

Too late to the party?

After the latest run-up, Intellia has a market cap of $10.8 billion. Clearly there's a lot of future growth already reflected in the stock price. Many investors may be asking themselves if they're too late. 

The short answer is, not even close. In all likelihood, the CRISPR revolution is just getting started, and there will likely be many $100 billion companies in this space. And a $1 trillion market cap is not out of the question for a company that rids mankind of multiple terrible diseases. Healthcare investors with a long-term buy-and-hold approach should consider getting on board now. 

As with any biotech company, there will be volatility. Lulls between announcements will cause the stock to drift down, and future news may push the stock up to new heights in a single day. But this is the bottom line: We are witnessing one of the greatest changes in human history, and investing early in Intellia may be something you can tell your kids and grandkids about -- and your neighbors, coworkers, and anyone else who will listen.