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The companies will partner to develop T-cell therapies for cancer.
On June 25, 2018, AbbVie announced a collaboration with Calibr, a nonprofit drug-discovery division of Scripps Research, to develop T-cell therapies for cancer.
Under the terms of the license agreement, AbbVie will pay Calibr an upfront license fee and gain exclusive access to Calibr's switchable chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) platform for a term of up to four years. The companies will work together to develop T-cell therapies directed to solid tumor targets identified by AbbVie.
AbbVie also has the option to develop additional cell therapies toward AbbVie-nominated targets and license existing Calibr cell-therapy programs under development for hematological and solid cancers, including Calibr's lead program. Calibr plans to enter this lead candidate into clinical studies for lymphoma in 2019.
In addition, the agreement provides AbbVie with an option to acquire an exclusive license to Calibr's switchable CAR-T platform and programs within the first four years of the collaboration. The companies will share responsibility for preclinical development, with AbbVie responsible for clinical development and commercialization, and Calibr eligible to receive success-based milestone payments and royalties. The transaction is subject to clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act.
CAR-T therapies use a cancer patient's own immune system to attack and terminate cancer cells. Despite promising results in hematological malignancies, current CAR-T therapies in development for solid tumors have shown limitations because of rapid activation and expansion of CAR-T cells that can lead to serious adverse events, as stated by AbbVie.
Calibr's novel cell-therapy program contains a proprietary modular "switchable" CAR-T cell that uses antibody-based switch molecules to control the activation and antigen specificity of CAR-T cells.Calibr's proprietary technology may enable the development of universal CAR-T-based treatments across several types of hematological and solid tumor indications.
According to AbbVie, this collaboration broadens AbbVie's oncology research to access advanced precision medicine technology to develop cancer treatments.
"Calibr has assembled a premier scientific team and developed an innovative cell-therapy technology that can take us to the next frontier of cancer treatment," says Mohit Trikha, PhD, vice president and head of Oncology Early Development at AbbVie, in a company press release. "The combination of AbbVie's oncology discovery and early development expertise and Calibr's novel switchable CAR-T therapy platform aims to advance the current standard of care, with the potential rapidly advancing new treatment options for patients."