The change is spectacular, sudden. After months of stock market inertia, GenOway shares are feverish. Again this morning, their price soared by more than 40%, bringing the gain to more than 100% in the space of three days. It all started with the announcement last Wednesday of the Nobel Prize in chemistry, which rewarded Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna for their discovery of the CRISPR-Cas9 molecular scissors.
“The outbreak of GenOway is directly linked to the Nobel Prize in chemistry,” confirms Sacha Pouget, associate director at Kalliste Biotech Advisors, a firm that provides investment advice on biotechnology stocks. The prestigious award highlighted an innovation that GenOway has been using for two years, “which sparked opportunity buying. “
GenOway is a Lyon-based company that develops genetically modified rats on which the pharmaceutical industry tests its drug candidates. It “is the only company capable of providing its customers with the intellectual property rights necessary to use genetically modified rodent models based on CRISPR-Cas9 ,” management recalled in a statement Friday. This exclusive global position results from the agreement signed [in 2018] with Merck for the exploitation in the rodent field of its CRISPR-Cas9 patent portfolio. “ The molecular scissors system is a patented system. Anyone who wants to use it must make an agreement with the German laboratory, which holds the rights. And GenOway has“An exclusive worldwide license for rodent models”.
Within the company, we were officially congratulated on Friday that this prize had been awarded to a technology which “has literally revolutionized molecular biology, pushing mutagenesis even further. Indeed, only ten years ago, it would have been quite difficult to generate rodent models for certain diseases caused by mutations in several genes such as brain tumors. Today, scientists can simultaneously inactivate several genes by CRISPR-Cas9 and generate more relevant models than before. “ The customers of GenOway, which derives half of its turnover from the United States , can for example access humanized ” models “ ,“Ie models where a mouse gene is replaced by a human gene. “ They can have rodent ” mimicking the human disease “ , such as Alzheimer’s disease. “In addition, due to its efficiency and ease of use, CRISPR-Cas9 considerably simplifies and shortens the technical phase of model generation, including for example that of Covid-19 animal models.
This Nobel Prize does not change anything in GenOway’s business, but “it confirms that we have positioned ourselves on the right technology” , explains Benjamin Bruneau, the company’s financial director, who remembers that “two years ago , when we explained technology, it was not necessarily readable. “The advantage of having been a pioneer, “is that we have put in place barriers to entry. “
“The craze is not unique to GenOway”
The Nobel Prize in chemistry also shed light on the role of genetic scissors in the fight against the coronavirus. Whether in the search for a treatment or in that of detection, through PCR tests that give their verdict in less than an hour. The spotlight on CRISPR-Cas9 technology is even bigger.
“The enthusiasm for the stock market is not unique to Genoway,” says Sacha Pouget. C e are specialists CRISPR technology are sought. “ Those listed in the United States ” rose on average by around 30% during the week of the announcement of the Nobel Prize: + 22% for Editas Medicine, + 23% for CRISPR Therapeutics and + 40% for Intellia Therapeutics. “
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