The Latest CRISPR Gene Editing Firm Preparing to Go Public: Brainstorm Health

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Hello and happy Monday, readers! I hope you had a wonderful weekend.

Last year, Feng Zhang, one of the pioneering minds behind CRISPR gene-editing technology, and a number of colleagues launched yet another startup in the space called Beam Therapeutics. Less than a year and a half later, the company is already plotting an IPO.

Beam has filed initial paperwork for a public offering aiming to raise $100 million, according to a new SEC filing, making it the latest genomic specialist to join the cascade of IPOs in the space. Previously, companies like (the aptly named) CRISPR Therapeutics, Editas Medicine, Intellia Therapeutics, and others—all involved in the CRISPR space, albeit with various academic partners—had already hopped on the IPO bandwagon.

The Beam Therapeutics founders believe their technology can go one step beyond what “traditional” CRISPR already does (there is, of course, nothing quite traditional about slicing and dicing DNA). Beam’s “base-editing” system aims to make even more precise tweaks to our genetic building blocks—think of it as molecular scalpels rather than shears.

This is all fascinating science. But it’s worth noting that none of these companies, public or otherwise, have proven that CRISPR’s potential actually works in real human beings in a clinical trial setting. Those studies are just getting started. The money, it seems, isn’t waiting for the science.

Read on for the day’s news.

Sy Mukherjee, @the_sy_guy,


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Trump administration pushes to expand wellness programs. The Trump administration is slated to bring one of the Affordable Care Act’s more controversial provisions—wellness programs to incentivize health—to the individual insurance market. Under the proposal, 10 states could apply to bring pilot wellness projects to their individual insurance exchanges with the goal of providing “plans that provide people with direct incentives to make healthier choices and achieve better health outcomes.” Why might this prove controversial to some experts? Well, there’s just not a whole lot of evidence (to date, at least) that these sorts of wellness programs have been all that effective, despite a bipartisan drive to promote them. 


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