California headquartered, Caribou, is a clinical-stage CRISPR genome editing biotechnology company.
The collaboration leverages Caribou’s next-generation CRISPR genome editing technology platform and AbbVie’s antigen-specific binders. AbbVie will utilize Caribou’s next-generation Cas12a CRISPR hybrid RNA-DNA (chRDNA) genome editing and cell therapy technologies to research and develop two new CAR-T cell therapies.
Under the terms of deal, Caribou will receive US$40m in an upfront cash payment and equity investment and up to US$300m in future development, regulatory, and launch milestones.
Although allogeneic CAR-T cell therapies have shown early promise in some cancer patients, the need for overcoming the rejection of allogeneic CAR-T cells by the host immune system remains a key challenge to their broader development, said the companies.
Employing Caribou’s CRISPR genome editing platform to engineer CAR-T cells to withstand host immune attack would enable the development of the next-generation cellular therapies to benefit a broader patient population, claim the partners.
Caribou will conduct certain pre-clinical research, development, and manufacturing activities for the collaboration programs, and AbbVie will reimburse Caribou for all such activities pursuant to the collaboration, while AbbVie will be responsible for all clinical development, commercialization, and manufacturing efforts.
AbbVie also has the option to pay a fee to expand the collaboration to include up to an additional two CAR-T cell therapies.
“We are excited to partner with AbbVie on the development of new CAR-T cell therapies. This collaboration validates Caribou’s differentiated next-generation CRISPR genome editing technologies that provide best-in-class efficiency and specificity,” said Rachel Haurwitz, CEO of Caribou.
“CAR-T therapies have shown to be a promising breakthrough in cancer treatment, Collaborating with Caribou and their cutting-edge CRISPR platform will help AbbVie advance our efforts to deliver new hope for patients,” said Steve Davidsen, VP, oncology discovery, AbbVie.
Outside of this collaboration, Caribou is advancing an internal pipeline of allogeneic cell therapies for oncology. CB-010, its lead allogeneic CAR-T cell program, targets CD19 and is being evaluated in a Phase 1 clinical trial for patients with relapsed/refractory B cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma.
CB-011, Caribou’s second allogeneic CAR-T cell therapy, targets BCMA for multiple myeloma, while CB-012, Caribou’s third allogeneic CAR-T cell therapy, targets CD371 for acute myeloid leukemia.
CB-011 and CB-012 are in preclinical development.
Additionally, Caribou is developing iPSC-derived allogeneic natural killer (NK) cell therapies for solid tumors.