Investors’ bullishness on the potential of gene-editing technologies has turned a trio of startups into multibillion-dollar enterprises. But some unforeseen scientific findings, courtesy of a pair of new scientific papers, provides a jarring reminder to the market: Until this newfangled technology is proved safe in actual humans, investing in CRISPR stocks will remain a head-spinning experience.
Collectively, CRISPR Therapeutics (CRSP), Editas Medicine (EDIT), and Intellia Therapeutics (NTLA) lost nearly $500 million in value Monday after two freshly published papers warned that gene-edited cells could be breeding grounds for cancer. Each paper is based on preclinical research, and scientists said the findings were hardly a death knell for the nascent field of CRISPR. But Wall Street, wary of any safety concerns that could derail gene-editing medicines’ path to the clinic, wasn’t feeling patient.