Janssen Biotech and private biotech firm Transposagen Biopharmaceuticals announced that the companies have entered into a research collaboration and global license agreement to jointly develop allogeneic Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cells (CAR-T) therapies against cancer.
The Lexington-based biotech will use its proprietary genome editing technologies to develop allogeneic CAR-T therapies. Transposagen’s CAR-T therapies have shown potential to treat blood cancers in early human clinical trials. Its CAR-T therapies can also be potentially used as off-the-shelf cancer treatments without requiring a donor-recipient match.
Under the terms of the collaboration, Transposagen will receive up to $229 million in upfront and milestone payments with additional royalties for every CAR-T therapy developed by Janssen. Janssen will gain exclusive rights to any allogeneic CAR-T therapies resulting from the partnership. Janssen also holds a non-exclusive research license to use its partner’s proprietary gene editing technologies to develop gene and cell therapy solutions for diseases with high unmet medical need. However, Transposagen retains the rights to develop autologous CAR-T therapies and those which use Natural Killer (NK) cells. Janssen will take the lead in manufacturing and marketing of these allogeneic CAR-T therapies.
In addition, the companies have agreed to enter a 3-year research collaboration focused on preclinical research. Eric Ostertag, President and CEO of Transposagen, said, “The research collaboration with Janssen will pair Transposagen’s cutting-edge gene editing and gene delivery technology and expertise with Janssen industry-leading technologies in the antibody and antibody alternative areas to create what may be the ideal CAR-T therapy.”
CAR-T therapy development is an emerging trend among pharmaceutical companies. Several firms currently developing CAR-T therapies include Pfizer, Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, and Novartis. In fact, Novartis recently received Breakthrough Therapy Designation for its immunotherapy licensed from the University of Pennsylvania for leukemia. In June, Pfizer collaborated with Cellectis, a biopharmaceutical company using its Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell (CAR-T) platform to develop cancer immunotherapies.