Baxalta, Precision BioSciences ink cancer deal worth $1.7B

The partners will develop allogeneic CAR T cell therapies against unmet needs in cancer

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BANNOCKBURN, Ill. & DURHAM, N.C.—Baxalta Inc. is closing February with a bang, having announced a global collaboration with Precision BioSciences worth $1.7 billion. The two companies will work together for the development of a broad series of allogeneic chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapies directed at major unmet needs in a number of cancer types.
Per the terms of the agreement, Baxalta and Precision BioSciences will develop CAR T therapies for up to six unique targets, and the first program is expected to enter clinical studies in late 2017. Precision BioSciences will assume responsibility for performing early-stage research activities up to Phase 2. After that point, Baxalta has the exclusive right to opt in for late-stage development and commercialization. Baxalta will pay Precision BioSciences $105 million up front, with additional option fees, developmental, clinical, regulatory and sales milestones that could potentially total up to $1.6 billion. Precision BioSciences is also eligible to royalties on worldwide sales, and 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 United States. Additional terms and initial targets were not disclosed.
“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,” David Meek, executive vice president and president of Oncology at Baxalta, said in a press release. “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.”
CAR T cell therapy technologies make it possible to isolate cells from cancer patients’ blood and then re-engineer them to specifically target receptors on tumor cells. These reprogrammed cells are multiplied in the lab, then administered to the patient to target the tumor. Precision BioSciences’ proprietary ARCUS genome-editing technology takes a different approach, enabling the production of CAR T cells derived from healthy donors rather than relying on the patient.
“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," Matthew Kane, CEO of Precision BioSciences, remarked in a statement on the deal. “We look forward to working closely with the team at Baxalta to develop novel CAR T therapeutics that could transform the treatment of cancer.”
Baxalta announced a similarly large, cancer-focused agreement in early January with the news of a broad strategic immuno-oncology collaboration with Symphogen. The companies plan to advance novel therapeutics against half a dozen checkpoint targets in an agreement that could total $1.6 billion if all milestones are met.
SOURCE: Baxalta press release

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