In return for Johnson & Johnson’s access to Fate Therapeutics’ product platform, the latter company will receive $100m (€93m) split evenly between an upfront payment and an equity investment.
Janssen Biotech, a subsidiary of J&J, will work with Fate Therapeutics to research and identify induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) NK and CAR T-cell product candidates.
Janssen will provide the proprietary antigen binding domains for up to four antigen targets, while Fate Therapeutics will use its iPSC product platform to lead the research.
Once Fate Therapeutics files an investigational new drug (IND) application, Janssen will have the right to exercise its option for an exclusive license to develop and commercialize the drug candidate further.
Tied up to development and commercialization steps is a potential further $3bn, as well as royalties on worldwide sales. Additionally, Fate Therapeutics has the option to co-commercialize any product candidates in the US.
Fate Therapeutics will be responsible for the manufacture of any product candidates pursued, with Janssen paying for the cost.
The company noted that clonal master iPSC lines for cell therapy products are well-defined and uniform in composition, while being scalable to enable production at ‘significant scale’ and cost-effective.
Any potential treatments would be able to be delivered to patients ‘off-the-shelf’, potentially overcoming the limitation of current CAR-T technology that has to be manufactured utilizing the patient’s own cells.
As a result, this type of approach is an attractive aim for the industry, with Cellectis progressing such a potential CAR-T treatment into the clinic.