Baxalta, a global biopharmaceutical leader dedicated to delivering transformative therapies to patients with orphan diseases and underserved conditions, and Precision BioSciences, a genome editing company, have announced a global collaboration to develop a broad series of allogeneic chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapies directed towards areas of major unmet need in multiple cancers.
CAR T is widely recognized as a breakthrough technology with the potential to become a curative option for certain malignancies. Most CAR T cell therapy technologies isolate cells from cancer patients’ blood and re-engineer them to specifically target receptors on tumor cells. The reprogrammed cells are multiplied in a laboratory and then returned to the patient to target the tumor. This approach has had initial success in clinical trials for certain tumor types, but persistent scaling challenges remain based on the highly personalized nature of the therapy. Precision BioSciences’ proprietary ARCUS genome editing technology enables the production of CAR T cells derived from healthy donors rather than relying on the patient. This approach aims to overcome the manufacturing-related limitations with existing CAR T therapies and enable a broader range of malignancies to be targeted.
“Collaborating with Precision BioSciences enables Baxalta to accelerate innovation in immuno-oncology with a next-generation, donor-derived CAR T strategy using a proprietary combination of genome editing expertise and technology,” said David Meek, executive vice president and president, Oncology, Baxalta. “Combining Precision BioSciences’ ARCUS technology with Baxalta’s global infrastructure, expertise and growing immuno-oncology portfolio is a synergistic approach that we believe has the potential to make disruptive approaches available to people with a range of underserved cancers.”
“Baxalta is an ideal partner in CAR T for Precision and our ARCUS genome editing platform because of their global reach, collaborative business model, and long-term commitment to succeeding in immuno-oncology," said Matthew Kane, CEO of Precision BioSciences. “We look forward to working closely with the team at Baxalta to develop novel CAR T therapeutics that could transform the treatment of cancer.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Baxalta and Precision BioSciences will develop CAR T therapies for up to six unique targets, with the first program expected to enter clinical studies in late 2017. Precision BioSciences will be responsible for performing early-stage research activities up to phase II, following which Baxalta has the exclusive right to opt in for late-stage development and commercialization. Precision BioSciences will receive an upfront payment of $105 million from Baxalta, with additional option fees, developmental, clinical, regulatory and sales milestones, potentially totaling up to $1.6 billion, in addition to royalties on worldwide sales. Precision also has the right to participate in the development and commercialization of any licensed products resulting from the collaboration through a 50/50 co-development and co-promotion option in the U.S. Additional terms and initial targets were not disclosed.
The agreement follows another recently established Baxalta collaboration to advance novel therapeutics against checkpoint targets, advancing the company’s strategic commitment to investing in immuno-oncology and building an innovative portfolio of cancer immunotherapies.