Eterna Therapeutics acquired the global immuno-oncology platform of Exacis Biotherapeutics. Eterna officials say the acquisition complements the company’s core business with a pipeline of allogeneic immuno-oncology products under development for the treatment of hematologic and solid tumors. The deal also provides Eterna with an exclusive global license to produce an unlimited number of mRNA-engineered natural killer (NK) and T-cell therapies derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).

“We are excited to bring this powerful platform into Eterna. With Exacis’ pipeline of engineered iPSC-derived cell therapy candidates, we believe Eterna is well-positioned to develop more effective, targeted, and highly differentiated medicines to treat cancer,” said Matt Angel, PhD, CEO and president of Eterna. “We believe that combining the Exacis and Eterna technologies de-risks our approach and supports a capital-efficient path to develop highly competitive cancer therapeutics.”

Improving patient outcomes

“Exacis was started with the goals of improving patient outcomes and experiences as well as increasing access to life-saving treatments,” added Gregory Fiore, MD, president and CEO of Exacis, and a member of Eterna’s board of directors. “Today’s announcement marks a key milestone on the path to achieving these goals.”

The technology underlying Exacis’ platform uses mRNA cell reprogramming and mRNA gene editing to create engineered iPSC-derived cells for use in the development of cancer therapies that can target nearly any cancer antigen. In contrast to DNA-based reprogramming and gene editing, the mRNA-based approach does not expose cells to expensive and potentially harmful viruses or DNA vectors, pointed out a scientist from Exacis.

Eterna plans to use Exacis’ platform to develop engineered cell therapies containing genomic edits designed to enhance their performance.

The terms of the acquisition include an upfront payment in shares of Eterna common stock, as well as milestone and other potential payments totaling up to $49.0 million.

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