Biopharmaceutical company Baxalta has collaborated with genome editing company Precision BioSciences to develop allogeneic chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapies to address areas of major unmet need in multiple cancers.

The companies have agreed to develop CAR T therapies for up to six unique targets, with the first programme expected to enter clinical studies in late 2017.

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 technology is designed to overcome the manufacturing-related limitations with existing CAR T therapies and enable a broader range of malignancies to be targeted.

"This technology is designed to overcome the manufacturing-related limitations with existing CAR T therapies and enable a broader range of malignancies to be targeted."

Baxalta oncology executive vice-president and president David Meek said: "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.

"Combining Precision BioSciences’ ARCUS technology with Baxalta’s global infrastructure, expertise and growing immuno-oncology portfolio is a synergistic approach, which we believe has the potential to make disruptive approaches available to people with a range of underserved cancers."

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Precision BioSciences has agreed to perform early-stage research activities up to Phase II, following which Baxalta has the exclusive right to opt in for late-stage development and commercialisation.

Baxalta will pay Precision $105m upfront, in addition to up to $1.6bn in option fees to achieve developmental, clinical, regulatory, and sales milestones.

Precision also has the right to participate in the development and commercialisation of any licensed products resulting from the collaboration, through a 50 / 50 co-development and co-promotion option in the US.

CAR T cell therapy technologies isolate cells from cancer patients’ blood and re-engineer them to specifically target receptors on tumour cells.

The reprogrammed cells are multiplied in a laboratory and then returned to the patient to target the tumour.