January 23, 2018 / 2:26 PM / a year ago

BUZZ-SunTrust upgrades gene editing cos CRISPR, Editas to "buy"

** CRISPR Therapeutics up 7.5 pct to $36.28, Editas Medicine up 3 pct to $35.65 premarket as SunTrust upgrades both to “buy” from “hold”

** Hikes PT for both to $45; from $16 for CRSP, from $17 for EDIT

** Lead analyst Peter Lawson says though broker missed some of the run in both stocks, sees further upside driven by approaching clinical data in mid-2018 (CRSP) and year-end (EDIT)

** Believes gene editing “will be the next major therapeutic modality”; adds that with the acquisition of T-cell therapy (CAR-T) cos, “SMID cap investors should focus on the next disruptive therapy”

** Cites how CAR-T space has rolled into big biotech in less than 4 years from IPO, highlighting Gilead’s buy of Kite Pharma in Aug and Celgene’s acquisition of Juno Therapeutics on Mon

** Lawson initiated coverage of CRSP and EDIT in Jul

** On Mon, CRSP jumped 13.5 pct to close at record high and EDIT gained ~14 pct as biotechs surged amid an M&A frenzy

** CRISPR went public in Oct 2016 at $14/sh, Editas priced its Feb 2016 IPO at $16/sh

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