Editas Medicine and Allergan inked a R&D partnership that gives Allergan exclusive access and a licensing option to up to five of Editas’s early-stage CRISPR genome-editing programs targeting eye diseases, including its lead preclinical program for Leber congenital amaurosis (LCA10). 

Editas will receive $90 million upfront from Allergan for five programs, plus near-term milestones related to LCA10 development. On licensing one of the five programs, Allergan will take over development and commercialization activities, subject to Editas retaining options to co-develop and co-promote up to two of the products in the U.S. Editas will also be due development and commercial milestones and sales royalties.

“The CRISPR genome-editing platform holds the potential to transform the treatment of many genetic and nongenetically derived diseases, including diseases and conditions of the eye,” said David Nicholson, Ph.D., chief R&D officer, Allergan. “The Allergan team is excited to work with colleagues at Editas Medicine to develop and potentially deliver game-changing treatment for retinal diseases like LCA10. This program is highly complementary to our ongoing eye care development programs where unmet medical need exists for patients.”

“Allergan has long been a leader in advancing innovative therapies to treat eye diseases,” added Katrine Bosley, president and CEO at Editas Medicine. “Working together with Allergan through their Open Science R&D model significantly enhances our ability to develop genome-editing medicines to help patients with serious eye diseases. This alliance is highly aligned with our strategy to build our company for the long-term and to realize the broad potential of our genome editing platform to treat serious diseases.”

Editas is leveraging its genome-editing platform to develop therapeutics against ocular disorders, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, nonhematologic blood disorders, cystic fibrosis, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, and cancer. The LCA10 program is designed to eliminate the CEP290 gene mutation and restore normal protein expression and photoreceptor cell function. Editas established a collaboration with Juno Therapeutics in 2015 to develop chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR T) and high-affinity T-cell receptor (TCR) treatments against a range of tumor types.

In August of last year, Editas and Adverum Biotechnologies teamed up for a collaboration that aims to combine Adverum’s adeno-associated viral vector delivery technology with Editas’s genome-editing platform for the development of of therapeutics for up to five inherited retinal diseases.

In December 2016, Editas extended its CRISPR genome-editing capabilities through new licenses for the Cpf1 platform and additional Cas9-based technologies.  

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