Press Release

Editas Medicine Licenses Genome Editing Technology from Broad Institute and Harvard University

December 1, 2014 at 3:22 AM EST

Joint Agreement Includes Exclusive Access to First Issued Patents in Field

Cambridge, Mass., December 1, 2014 – Editas Medicine, a leading genome editing company, today announced that they have entered into an exclusive joint license agreement with the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and Harvard University to access intellectual property and technology related to the CRISPR/Cas9 and TALE genome editing systems. The license allows broad utilization of the technology developed by Editas founders, Feng Zhang, Ph.D., of the Broad Institute, and George Church, Ph.D., and David R. Liu, Ph.D., both of Harvard University, for the prevention and treatment of human disease.

“Feng Zhang, George Church and David Liu are on the leading edge of the genomic medicine frontier, and it’s a privilege to work with them and to be allied with world-class institutions like the Broad and Harvard. We all share the goal of translating this cutting- edge science into breakthrough medicines for people with genetically-driven diseases,” said Katrine Bosley, chief executive officer, Editas Medicine. “At Editas, we are committed to broadly developing the science of genome editing, and we seek to fully enable the potential of the technology – through our own work and in collaboration with academic and industry partners.”

Feng Zhang, Ph.D., is a Core Member of the Broad Institute, McGovern Institute for Brain Research Investigator, and Joint Assistant Professor in the Departments of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Biological Engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. George Church, Ph.D., is a Core Faculty Member at the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University and the Robert Winthrop Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School; and David Liu, Ph.D., is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator and a Professor of Chemistry and Chemical Biology in the Harvard University Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

About Genome Editing

Following an explosion of high-profile publications on CRISPR/Cas9 and TALENs, genome editing has emerged as one of the most exciting new areas of scientific research. These recent advances have made it possible to modify, in a targeted way, almost any gene in the human body with the ability to directly turn on, turn off or edit disease- causing genes. Editas Medicine’s five founders have published much of the foundational work that has elevated genome editing technology to a level where it can now be optimized and developed for therapeutic use.

CRISPR (clustered, regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats)/Cas9 (CRISPR- associated protein 9) and TALENs (transcription activator-like effector nucleases) comprise novel gene editing methods that overcome the challenges associated with previous technologies. Early published research on CRISPR/Cas9, coupled with a growing body of work on TALENs, suggests the potential to pursue therapeutic indications that have previously been intractable to traditional gene therapy, gene knock- down or other genome modification techniques. The CRISPR/Cas9 system, the most recent and exciting approach to emerge, acts by a mechanism in which the Cas9 protein binds to specific RNA molecules. The RNA molecules guide the Cas9 complex to the exact location in the genome that requires repair. CRISPR/Cas9 uniquely enables highly efficient knock-out, knock-down or selective editing of defective genes in the context of their natural promoters, unlocking the ability to treat the root cause of a broad range of diseases.

About Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard

The Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard was launched in 2004 to empower this generation of creative scientists to transform medicine. The Broad Institute seeks to describe all the molecular components of life and their connections; discover the molecular basis of major human diseases; develop effective new approaches to diagnostics and therapeutics; and disseminate discoveries, tools, methods and data openly to the entire scientific community.

Founded by MIT, Harvard and its affiliated hospitals, and the visionary Los Angeles philanthropists Eli and Edythe L. Broad, the Broad Institute includes faculty, professional staff and students from throughout the MIT and Harvard biomedical research communities and beyond, with collaborations spanning over a hundred private and public institutions in more than 40 countries worldwide. For further information about the Broad Institute, go to

About the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University

Using Nature's design principles, the Wyss Institute ( develops bioinspired materials and devices that will transform medicine and create a more sustainable world. Working as an alliance among all of Harvard's Schools, and in partnership with Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston Children's Hospital, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital, the University of Massachusetts Medical School, Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, Boston University, Tufts University, and Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, and the University of Zurich, the Institute crosses disciplinary and institutional barriers to engage in high-risk research that leads to transformative technological breakthroughs. By emulating Nature's principles for self-organizing and self-regulating, Wyss researchers are developing innovative new engineering solutions for healthcare, energy, architecture, robotics, and manufacturing. These technologies are translated into commercial products and therapies through collaborations with clinical investigators, corporate alliances, and new start-ups.

About Harvard University Faculty of Arts and Sciences

Founded in 1890, the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) is the largest division of Harvard University. The Faculty of Arts and Sciences is dedicated to being at the forefront of teaching and learning and fostering cutting edge research and discovery. FAS is redefining liberal arts education for the 21st century and is committed to an open Harvard and student aid by making a Harvard education accessible to students from all backgrounds. FAS comprises Harvard College and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, including undergraduate and graduate admissions; the School of Engineering and Applied Sciences; and the Division of Continuing Education, including the Extension and Summer Schools. FAS also encompasses academic resources, such as libraries and museums, as well as campus resources and athletics.

About Editas Medicine

Editas is a leading genome editing company and part of a transformational new area of health care – genomic medicine. The company was founded by the pioneers and world leaders in genome editing bringing specific expertise in CRISPR/Cas9 and TALENs technologies. The company’s mission is to translate its proprietary technology into novel solutions to treat a broad range of genetically-driven diseases. For more information, visit


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