CRISPR Therapeutics, a biopharmaceutical company focused on creating transformative gene-based medicines for serious diseases, and Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center (MGHCC), a scientific and clinical institution, have entered into a two-year research collaboration and license option agreement to develop novel T cell therapies for cancer. As part of the collaboration, CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing will be utilized to improve upon current T cell therapies in development, ultimately addressing unmet needs in both hematologic and solid tumors. Marcela V. Maus, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Cellular Immunotherapy Program at MGHCC and Assistant Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical, will lead the scientific work at MGH.
“It is becoming increasingly clear that CRISPR/Cas9 can play a major role in enabling the next generation of T cell therapies in oncology. By combining our gene editing capabilities with Dr. Maus’ pioneering expertise in T cell therapy, we hope to accelerate our progress toward making these therapies a reality for patients suffering from cancer,” said Jon Terrett, Ph.D., head of Immuno-Oncology Research and Translation, CRISPR Therapeutics.
“We have already seen the profound benefit that T cell therapies can have for certain patients with a specific set of tumor types. Now the potential with gene editing, and specifically CRISPR/Cas9, exists to create improved versions of these cells that may work for a wider variety of patients with a more diverse set of tumor types. I’m glad to see the commitment CRISPR Therapeutics is making to this area, and am excited to collaborate with them,” said Dr. Marcela Maus, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and the director of Cellular Immunotherapy at MGH.
The collaboration represents an additional step in CRISPR Therapeutics’ ongoing development efforts in immuno-oncology. In February of this year, the company announced the hiring of Jon Terrett, Ph.D., to lead its unit dedicated to advancing immuno-oncology therapies using CRISPR/Cas9 into the clinic. Recently, the company announced a service agreement with MaSTherCell SA to develop and manufacture allogeneic CAR-T therapies including CTX101, the company’s lead immuno-oncology program targeting CD19 positive malignancies. This collaboration with MGH will expand CRISPR Therapeutics’ efforts into a more diverse set of tumor types and molecular targets, while also accessing the expertise of leading academic researchers in the field.