Gene-Editing Stocks Gain After Doctor Claims Success in Babies

(Bloomberg) -- Gene-editing stocks traded higher after a Chinese researcher claimed to have produced the world’s first genetically edited babies.

The trio of public companies developing therapies using the technology known as Crispr, the method He Jiankui claimed to use in China, outperformed peers Monday as the broader biotech market rebounded. Crispr Therapeutics AG rallied 4.5 percent, while Editas Medicine Inc. rose 3 percent and Intellia Therapeutics Inc. gained 5.5 percent. Sangamo Therapeutics In., a firm that uses a gene-editing platform known as Zinc finger nuclease, rose as much as 3.4 percent.

Gene-Editing Stocks Gain After Doctor Claims Success in Babies

Several Chinese institutions distanced themselves from He’s claims, which can’t be verified without an independent review, yet that hasn’t stopped investors stepping back into bullish bets on the stocks exposed to potential success. And the group has proved resilient to previous potential set-backs, including studies suggesting the technique could promote cancer-causing mutations in cells and hesitance from U.S. regulators on Crispr Therapeutic’s first in-human trial.

Crispr shares remain up close to 60 percent this year while Editas and Intellia have fallen 6 percent and 8 percent respectively. The Nasdaq Biotechnology Index, the broadest gauge for the industry’s performance, is off 1.8 percent this year after the market’s recent sell-off.

The group’s pioneer that shares the namesake of the editing technology has enrolled its first patient in a European study and recently opened enrollment in the U.S. for patients with severe sickle cell disease in trials with partner Vertex Pharmaceuticals Inc. Analysts and investors are preparing for a first look at some results from the pair’s early-stage trial of their therapy in a blood disorder from the European study sometime next year.

The scientist is slated to speak at a session on human embryo editing at the International Summit on Human Genome Editing on Wednesday in Hong Kong.

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