DURHAM – Element Genomics, a three-year-old Duke University spin-off focusing on genomic research, has been acquired by Belgium-based UCB for as much as $30 million.

A priority for Element is a gene-editing technology known as CRISPR.

UCB, a global biopharmaceutical firm which has a presence in the Triangle, said upfront payments and milestones based on success could push the deal value to a maximum of $30 million.

“Element Genomics researchers have a stellar reputation and their scientific expertise in genomics and epigenomics will complement UCB’s, allowing us to deepen our understanding of disease mechanisms with the aim of developing targeted therapies,” said UCB Chief Scientific Officer Dhavalkumar Patel. “We look forward to working with the Element Genomics team and welcome them within UCB.”

Element will remain based in Durham, according to UCB. The firm said it also said “close cooperation” will continue with “Duke University and the Element Genomics founders, Duke University Professors Charles GersbachGreg CrawfordTim Reddy and Kris Wood.”

John Oxaal, CEO of Element Genomics, added: “We at Element are thrilled that UCB shared our vision for treating disease through knowledge gained through functional genomics and the vast and largely unexplored biology of the epigenome.  We believe that together with UCB we can much more quickly harness the power of this approach.”

UCB has worked with Duke in the past, Roger Palframan, head of external innovation at UCB, told the Triangle Business Journal.