Juno Therapeutics and Editas Medicine said today they will partner to create chimeric antigen receptor (CAR T) and high-affinity T cell receptor (TCR) therapies to treat cancer—a collaboration that could generate up to $737 million-plus for Editas.
The companies said their exclusive collaboration will combine Editas’ genome editing technologies, including CRISPR/Cas9, with Juno’s CAR and TCR technologies.
Juno agreed to pay Editas $25 million upfront, and up to $22 million in research support over five years across the three programs covered by the collaboration. For each program, Juno agreed to pay Editas more than $230 million in payments tied to future research, regulatory, and commercial sales milestones.
Editas is also eligible for tiered royalties following approval of any products developed with Juno.
“Editas’ disruptive genome editing technology may unlock the ability of CAR T and TCR technologies to address a much wider range of cancers, giving hope to countless patients and families waiting for treatments,” Juno CEO Hans Bishop said in a statement.
“Encouraged by the clinical benefits we have seen to date with our product candidates, we are committed to accessing and investing in leading science to create next generation therapeutics to maximize these benefits and the breadth of cancers we address,” Bishop added.
Juno has four clinical-phase product candidates in Phase I or Phase I/II studies—three that target CD19, the other, WT-1—as well as three preclinical compounds.
The collaboration caps a busy two months for Juno, in which the company settled its legal wrangle with Novartis over ownership of CAR technology; agreed to study a combination therapy for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL) through a collaboration of undisclosed value with MedImmune; and bolstered its cell therapy processing and manufacturing capabilities by acquiring Stage Cell Therapeutics for up to $233 million.
Juno was launched in 2013 by The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, and the Seattle Children’s Research Institute. The company raised about $265 million through an initial public offering in December 2014. Before the IPO, Juno had privately raised more than $300 million from investors that include Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos.