Sangamo Biosciences had developed zinc-finger nucleases (ZFNs),
a technology that could edit the genes of a living individual.
The technology had enormous potential, but it required a
significant amount of R&D work to ensure that it was both precise
enough, and would penetrate enough of an individual’s cells to
make a difference.
One of Sangamo’s ZFN programs was to develop a way to give
people a mutation that would cure HIV. This was obviously a
HUGE opportunity. Drug development, however, is extremely
expensive and risky, and Sangamo did not yet have revenues to
fund its programs.
Sangamo thus had to decide whether to partner with another
organization on the HIV program, and if so, how and with whom.
What were the pros and cons of Sangamo pursuing its gene
editing programs alone versus working with a partner?
Does the HIV program offer any special opportunities or
What do you think Sangamo should do regarding the HIV
program? Should it license the technology to a large
pharmaceutical? Should it form a joint venture with another
biotech or pharma company? If so, who?
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