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BTIG: Crispr Could Be A Takeover Target For Vertex

October 28, 2019 2:58 pm
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BTIG: Crispr Could Be A Takeover Target For Vertex

Crispr Therapeutics AG (NASDAQ:CRSP) shares were solidly higher Monday after the company reported third-quarter results and provided a business update.

The Analyst

BTIG Research reiterated a Buy rating on Crispr with a $59 price target. 

The Thesis

Crispr's third-quarter business update highlighted progress across the company's pipeline, including patient dosing with CTX110 and expanded Vertex programs, BTIG said in a note. 

"CRISPR announced that Vertex has exercised its options to in-license three additional targets for the development of treatments using CRISPR-based gene editing," according to the research firm. 

BTIG sees Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (NASDAQ:VRTX)'s decision to exercise its options to in-license three additional targets as one that further integrated the operations of the two companies, fueling speculation that Vertex could end up buying Crispr.

Enrollment is ongoing for the Phase 1/2 studies of CTX001, which is being co-developed by Crispr and Vertex and evaluated for transfusion-dependent beta thalassemia, or TDT, as well as sickle cell disease, BTIG said. 

Crispr's decision to include include β0/ β0 subtypes, the most severe form, in the TDT population for CTX001, is another indicator that the trial is going well, according to the analyst firm. 

BTIG expects the company to present the Phase 1/2 data at ASH for a couple of TDT patients and at least one sickle cell patient at a minimum.

Crispr announced it has begun treating patients in a Phase 1/2 trial for CTX110, its allogenic anti-CD19 CAR-T product candidate, and also said it will initiate a Phase 1/2 trial for CTX120, its anti-BCMA CAR-T product candidate for the treatment of multiple myeloma, in the first half of 2020.

BTIG expects positive initial data readouts for CTX001 in 2019 and CTX110 in 2020. 

Price Action

Crispr shares were trading 11.12% higher at $44.28 at the time of publication. 

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CRISPR Shares Relatively Quiet As Traders Circulate Earlier Note From BTIG Suggesting 'Vertex's decision to exercise its options to in-license 3 added targets...could fuel speculation CRISPR will end up as Vertex takeover target.'