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To this point, the technology known as CRISPR-Cas9 has been a science project, a research tool with enormous potential—and significant questions to answer—on which venture capitalists have placed bets by forming a group of startups. The jackpot: CRISPR-Cas9, a method of performing precise genetic surgery, might yield treatments for a wide array of previously intractable diseases.

We’re still a long way from anybody claiming that prize, though; no CRISPR-Cas9 therapy has ever been tested in a human being, and a whole lot could go wrong when that happens. Emerging technologies, after all, go through their ups and downs. But today some of the biggest names on Wall Street and elsewhere are showing that they like the odds by handing the largest round of funding yet to a CRISPR-Cas9 startup.

Cambridge-based Editas Medicine is announcing a $120 million Series B round led by Bill Gates’s chief advisor for science and technology, Boris Nikolic. The list of financiers teaming with Nikolic reads like a rolodex of so-called crossover investors, who invest in both public and private entities, and corporate venture arms....