Pharma 680x220Curing diseases by editing a person’s genes or using medicine specifically designed to work with their genetic profile has long been the realm of science fiction. However, new technologies have made this area of “personalized medicine” a hotbed for potential M&A growth.

CRISPR, a new technology already in discussions for a Nobel Prize, is revolutionizing the way science companies operate. So cheap and efficient that almost anyone can use it to alter DNA, CRISPR’s potential to create new and better genetically modified crops has already spurred enormous mergers in the agribusiness space. Now, CRISPR and other genetic technologies are set to transform the market for personalized medicine, which in the United States is expected to grow at a 7.5% combined annual growth rate from 2017 to 2021.

2016 saw three CRISPR IPOs valued at over $500 million, and private companies are pursuing some of the most promising new genetics technologies, such as gene therapies for cancer and ways to remove viruses, such as hepatitis B, that have permanently inserted themselves into a person’s genome. Ontario is poised to play a significant role in this growth with its successful track record of building genomics companies and as the home of the University of Toronto, one of the world’s top 10 genetics research universities.

With recent developments such as Google-backed genome-testing company 23andMe recently being cleared to operate by the FDA, personal genetic testing is predicted to be part of mainstream medical practice 2020. With human trials for CRISPR scheduled to start this year and the advance of artificial intelligence and diagnostic technologies, genomics and personalized medicine look to be a big part of the predicted $200 billion of biopharma M&A in 2017 and beyond.

The author would like to thank Jamie Parker, Summer Student, for his assistance in preparing this legal update.

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