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The drug maker Biogen announced late Thursday that it would license two preclinical drugs from Sangamo Therapeutics, both of which use a genome-editing technology called zinc fingers to regulate the expression of genes involved with neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

For Biogen, the large partnership deal represents a big bet both scientifically and financially that genome editing holds the key to treating diseases that have eluded the best efforts of drugmakers to find effective medicines. For Sangamo, the deal helps to validate the potential of zinc fingers as a genome editing technology at a time when it’s been eclipsed in many ways by CRISPR.


Sangamo is also getting a lot of money: $125 million in cash as an upfront license fee plus $225 million from the sale of new Sangamo stock that Biogen will purchase at $9.21 per share, or a 38% premium to Thursday’s closing price. Sangamo is also eligible to receive up to $2.37 billion in future payments tied to future development, regulatory, and commercial milestones.

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