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Top Jennifer Doudna Companies to Watch (April 2024)

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The CRISPR Revolution

Biotechnology is often revolutionized by a mix of luck, genius, and hard work. One new technology can open entirely new horizons in biotech manufacturing, research, and medicine.

One such revolution happened in 2012, when Jennifer Doudna (together with Emmanuelle Charpentier) discovered CRISPR-Cas9 and made the case for its potential in genome editing. Both would get the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 2020 for their work.

Since then, CRISPR (Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats) has been all the rage in biotech, with many companies looking to CRISPR gene editing to solve incurable diseases or engineer whole new capacities from plants, microbes, and animals.

So, when it comes to CRISPR, we might want to pay special attention to the woman with whom it all started.

Jennifer Doudna

Jennifer Doudna is an American molecular biologist working at Berkeley University, focusing early on in her career on RNA.

Doudna's co-discoverer, Emmanuelle Charpentier, would go on and create a company looking to monetize the CRISPR discovery with the launch of CRISPR Therapeutics in 2013. You can read more on CRISPR Therapeutics in our dedicated articles comparing it to Beam Therapeutics and Editas Medicine.

Doudna would spread her efforts wider with many different companies (see below).

If you want to know more, you can read a longer biography of Ms. Doudna on Britannica or her biography written by the biographer of Steve Jobs.

Doudna’s Companies And Research Institutes

Doudna was among the co-founders of:

Jennifer Doudna would also go on to create the Innovative Genomics Institute (IGI) in 2014, bringing together researchers from multiple California Universities.

She is also active at the Gladstone Institute of Data Science and Biotechnology and at her Doudna lab in Berkeley, managing the Center for Genomic Editing and Recording (CGER).

Lastly, Doudna is also present in advisory roles in Sixth Street, an investment firm, and in InvisiShield, developing intranasal preventive respiratory viruses.

1. Editas Medicine

finviz dynamic chart for  edit

Editas initially started working with Cas9 but is now focused on a proprietary version of Cas12 that they engineered: AsCas12a. Editas’ strategy is counting on the engineered AsCas12a CRISPR system.

In a dedicated article, We have covered the unique capacities of Cas-12a. To summarize it shortly:

  • Hard-to-solve problems with Cas9 could be workable with Cas12a
  • It results in higher chances of gene editing happening than with Cas9.
  • More than one gene can be modified at once with CAs12a

Editas’ primary focus has been blood diseases, with oncology and other pathology on target as well.

You can read more about the company's history, pipeline, and financials in our corresponding article.

2. Mammoth Biosciences

Mammoth is not publicly listed and raised $195M in 2021, pushing its valuation to more than $1B.

It went out of stealth mode in 2018, aiming to use CRISPR technology to create easy-to-use kits and a smartphone app that can detect diseases in hospitals or even at home, with results in 20 minutes.

The company also wants to discover new CRISPR systems, like Cas13, Cas14, CasZ, CasY, and CasPhi. To some extent, it seems Mammoth's business model will be more based on developing patents on CRISPR systems and licensing them out for therapeutic or industrial applications down the road.

3. Scribe Therapeutics

Scribe Therapeutics is not publicly listed and was founded in 2018. It is focused on engineering new SCRIPR systems, and The company has raised $100M in 2021.

It relies on Cas-X, a smaller protein than Cas9, making it more likely to work inside living cells. The company is relatively discrete about its progress, with only a general list of therapeutic areas and technical achievements being advertised.

Source: Scribe Therapeutics

Behind the public eye, it is nevertheless making great progress if we are to judge by its recent onslaught of partnerships. The company has agreed with Biogen to investigate CasX for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) for a total potential of $400M. It also signed a $1B licensing deal with Sanofi to develop novel natural killer (NK) cell therapies for cancer.

4. Caribou Biosciences

finviz dynamic chart for  crbu

The company was made to commercialize and license out the CRISPR patents held by Berkeley. The list of such licensing is rather impressive, including large companies like Novartis and Corteva:

It also partners with AbbVie for cancer cell therapies (CAR-T) and its own cancer therapies (CAR-NK).

Similar to Editas, it is working on Cas12 technology, chRDNA, for “multiplex gene insertions, with a high degree of specificity and lower levels of off-target editing than first-generation CRISPR-Cas”

The company had $317M in cash in April 2023, expecting it to provide a cash runway into 2025. It might need to raise more money by then or might get enough from partnership and licensing fees to start operating on its own cash flow.

5. Innovative Genomics Institute (IGI)

The IGI got in April 2023 a $70M grant for the research initiative, “Engineering the Microbiome with CRISPR to Improve our Climate and Health. ”

This followed an $11M grant from the Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan's Foundation for “a new program to use the revolutionary gene-editing tool on plants to boost their aptitude for carbon storage. ”

The Institute works on multiple other initiatives, for example:

All of these initiatives portray the scale of change CRISPR technologies could bring to the world. This is not just about medicine but about everything: biotechnology affects farming, carbon capture, etc.

Final Thoughts

Overall, Jennifer Doudna is still at the forefront of CRISPR scientific progress, and she seems to single-handedly be the cornerstone in a whole ecosystem of multiple private and public companies, as well as research institutes and labs.

So, as investors, it can give us insight into CRISPR technology's next steps, which we also broached in “CRISPR Beyond Human Health: The New Investing Frontier for Gene Editing”.

Jonathan is a former biochemist researcher who worked in genetic analysis and clinical trials. He is now a stock analyst and finance writer with a focus on innovation, market cycles and geopolitics in his publication 'The Eurasian Century".