Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX) and Obsidian Therapeutics have entered a strategic research partnership and licensing agreement to discover and develop novel therapies that regulate gene editing for treating serious diseases.

In this collaboration, Obsidian’s cytoDRiVE technology will be used to develop novel regulated gene-editing therapy candidates whose therapeutic activity can be accurately controlled using small molecules.

The established scientific and clinical expertise of Vertex in small molecule, cell and genetic therapies will aid in swiftly delivering these approaches to patients.

Vertex holds the exclusive option to licence worldwide rights to candidates developed under the partnership.

Once Vertex exercises its options, the company will oversee the future preclinical and clinical development and commercialisation of the products.

According to the deal, Obsidian will receive an upfront payment of up to $75m from Vertex and research milestone payments during the research term, including an equity investment in Obsidian.

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Furthermore, Obsidian is eligible to get up to $1.3bn in potential payments on successfully meeting specified research, development, regulatory and commercial milestones across up to five potential programmes.

Obsidian will also receive tiered royalties from Vertex on prospective net sales on any products developed under this agreement.

Vertex Global Research executive vice-president and chief scientific officer David Altshuler said: “This collaboration with Obsidian builds upon and will expand Vertex’s leadership in small molecule and genetic therapies and we’re excited to partner with the team at Obsidian to explore the capabilities of their technology.

“The ability to tune gene-editing activity to a specific level is an important innovation that has the potential to address several serious diseases.”

The companies have not divulged the details on the specific diseases that are the subject of this partnership.