Investors who witnessed Moderna’s (Nasdaq: MRNA) meteoric rise during the pandemic know just how profitable new biotechnology companies can be. As a pioneer in gene-editing medicines, CRISPR Therapeutics (Nasdaq: CRSP) could be another up-and-coming biotech stock that you want to keep your eye on.

In December 2023, CRISPR received approval from the FDA to treat sickle cell disease (SCD) and beta-thalassemia with its landmark drug, CASGEVY. However, despite this breakthrough, CRSP stock is down 15% in 2024. 

CRISPR’s Breakthrough Treatment

To start, investors should be careful buying CRSP stock as its success depends almost entirely on CASGEVY over the short term. CRISPR currently has 5 other drugs in clinical programs. But, CASGEVY is its only FDA-approved therapy. For investors, this means that CRISPR’s price will likely be very volatile in the short term. Any good news around CASGEVY will likely send the stock soaring, while bad news could do the opposite.

Despite its limited portfolio of approved drugs, CRISPR’s future seems very strong. Its approved drug, CASGEVY, is a potential cure for sickle cell, a debilitating and life-threatening disease. The company also has 15 more drugs in its pipeline including therapies for hemoglobinopathies, oncology, and regenerative medicine.

Additionally, the company is led (and co-founded) by Emmanuelle Charpentier. Emmanuelle received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for her work on the CRISPR/Cas9 gene-editing system. This just goes to show how cutting-edge CRISPR’s treatments are.

We also can’t discuss CRSP stock without also talking about Vertex Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: VRTX). 

CRISPR and Vertex Pharmaceuticals (Nasdaq: VRTX)

Vertex Pharmaceuticals owns 60% of CRISPR’s gene editing therapy for CASGEVY.

Right now, CASGEVY is in a bit of an exploratory phase. It has been approved by the FDA for use in the United States and the United Kingdom. In the US FDA trial, the drug was administered to 31 patients with 93.5% experiencing no major ill side effects. Now, it’s on doctors across the US and UK to recommend this treatment to their patients. When that happens, Vertex will own 60% of all sales and CRISPR will receive 40%.

On one hand, this will undoubtedly take a bite out of CRISPR’s potential profits. However, Vertex and CRISPR plan to charge $2.2 million for CASGEVY treatments. CRISPR’s cut of any prescribed treatments would presumably be 40% of $2.2 million or $880,000 per treatment – still incredibly high for one product.

Additionally, from what I’ve read, Vertex has significantly better commercialization abilities than CRISPR. It’s a bigger company with a much wider influence which will help bring CASGEVY to market and make it more readily available for patients. So, this partnership may actually work out in CRISPR’s favor.

Crispr Technologies Most Recent Quarter

As a cutting-edge biotech company, Crispr Technologies’ income has been all over the place over the last three years.

  1. 2023: Annual revenue of $371.2 million and a net loss of $153 million
  2. 2022: Annual revenue of $1.2 million and net loss of $650 million
  3. 2021: Annual revenue of $914.9 million a net income of $377 million

This type of variability is not uncommon for early-stage biotech companies. These types of companies often spend years churning through investors’ money while they work to develop cures. However, once they’ve developed a viable treatment, revenue and income can go parabolic. Could this be what’s in store for CRSP stock?

Should You Buy CRSP Stock?

Buying early-stage biotech companies is a bit of a gamble.

On one hand, CRSP stock certainly seems poised for a breakout. The company received critical approval for a life-changing drug and yet the stock is down YTD. The company also has a Nobel Prize-winning CEO in charge, which is a great sign of things to come. Crispr Technologies has the potential to do amazing things in the medicinal field over the coming years. If its gene-editing treatments are successful then the stock will undoubtedly soar.

Red Flags to consider. 

For example, how many people will actually buy CASGEVY? According to the FDA, sickle cell impacts just 100,000 people in the US, or 0.0003% of the population. And, for those who have sickle cell, how many will be able to actually afford CASGEVY given its immense price tag of $2.2 million dollars? These questions are difficult to estimate, especially given the US healthcare system’s convoluted use of insurance policies to pay for treatments.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that CRISPR already trades at a valuation of $4.75 billion. Some could argue that the company is immensely overvalued, considering its reported revenue of just $504,000 last quarter. On top of that, sickle cell affects a small portion of the US population. An even smaller percentage of those impacted will actually be able to afford CASGEVY. Finally, when CASGEVY revenue starts coming in, CRISPR will only receive 40%.

CASGEVY approval could be a sign of positive things to come.

It’s important to remember that CASGEVY is just one treatment for a handful of diseases. But, CASGEVY is also based on cutting-edge gene-editing technology. If CRISPR can use its gene-editing therapies to treat more common diseases – cancer, heart disease, etc – then the company’s $4.75 billion valuation might seem incredibly cheap. Who knows how long this type of diversification might take. But, it’s a very positive sign that CRSP stock has upward potential over the long run.

If you’re interested in buying CRSP stock, it might be wise to consider doing so slowly over time. This can help protect you from dramatic swings in the stock’s price. 

I hope that you’ve found this article valuable when it comes to learning about CRSP stock. If you’re interested in learning about other gene editing stocks click here, or please subscribe below to get alerted of new investment opportunities from InvestmentU.

Disclaimer: This article is for general informational and educational purposes only. It should not be construed as financial advice as the author, Ted Stavetski, is not a financial advisor. Ted also did not own CRSP stock at the time of writing.