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CRISPR Therapeutics (NASDAQ: CRSP), a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing transformative gene-based medicines for serious diseases, and Nkarta, Inc. (NASDAQ: NKTX), a biopharmaceutical company developing engineered NK cell therapies to treat cancer, today announced a strategic partnership to research, develop, and commercialize CRISPR/Cas9 gene-edited cell therapies for cancer.
Under the agreement, the companies will co-develop and co-commercialize two CAR NK cell product candidates, one targeting the CD70 tumor antigen and the other target to be determined. In addition, the companies will bring together their complementary cell therapy engineering and manufacturing capabilities to advance the development of a novel NK+T product candidate harnessing the synergies of the adaptive and innate immune systems. Finally, Nkarta obtains a license to CRISPR gene editing technology to edit five gene targets in an unlimited number of its own NK cell therapy products.
CRISPR Therapeutics and Nkarta will equally share all research and development costs and profits worldwide related to the collaboration products. For each non-collaboration product candidate incorporating a gene editing target licensed from CRISPR Therapeutics, Nkarta will retain worldwide rights and pay CRISPR Therapeutics milestones and royalties on net sales. The agreement includes a three-year exclusivity period between CRISPR Therapeutics and Nkarta covering the research, development, and commercialization of allogeneic, gene-edited, donor-derived NK cells and NK+T cells.
“By bringing together CRISPR Therapeutics’ and Nkarta’s highly complementary expertise and proprietary platforms we plan to accelerate the development of potentially groundbreaking genome engineered NK cell therapies,” said Samarth Kulkarni, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer at CRISPR Therapeutics. “This collaboration broadens the scope of our efforts in oncology cell therapy, and expands our efforts to discover and develop novel cancer therapies for patients.”
“Uniting the best-in-class gene editing solution and allogeneic T cell therapy expertise of CRISPR with Nkarta’s best-in-class CAR NK cell therapy platform will be a major advantage to advancing the next wave of transformative cancer cell therapies,” said Paul J. Hastings, President and Chief Executive Officer of Nkarta. “With this partnership, Nkarta can systematically apply world-class gene editing across our entire pre-clinical pipeline going forward. CRISPR’s deep understanding of CD70 biology and experience in allogeneic T cell clinical development can accelerate the development of early-stage Nkarta programs, to deliver innovative treatments to patients that much faster.”