Poseida Therapeutics, a private biotechnology company spun out of Transposagen Biopharmaceuticals and headquartered in San Diego, CA, today announced they have entered into a worldwide License Agreement with Janssen Biotech to research, develop, manufacture, and commercialize licensed products using Janssen’s Centyrin technology. The value of the collaboration was not disclosed.

Centyrins are a class of Janssen alternative scaffold molecules capable of being engineered to bind to target proteins with an interface of similar size to those used by antibodies. Janssen said it has developed a number of Centyrin libraries that are used for in vitro selection of Centyrin molecules that bind to protein targets with high affinity and specificity.

Poseida has entered into an exclusive license to use Centyrins to develop pharmaceutical products containing or comprised of autologous T-cells or any NK- or NK-like cells expressing a Centyrin molecule or Centyrin Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) molecule. As part of the Centyrin license, Poseida will gain access to Centyrin molecules against three existing targets—including one that Poseida  is developing in-house as part of an autologous CAR-T therapy to treat multiple myeloma.

The agreement gives Poseida rights to screen the Centyrin library to identify and develop Centyrin molecules against new cancer antigens that the company identifies or licenses, including solid tumor antigens. Poseida has agreed in return to pay Janssen an undisclosed upfront fee and potential payments tied to development, regulatory, and commercial milestones.

“The Centyrin technology can be used to develop binding molecules to numerous cancer antigens and paves the way towards cutting-edge CAR-based immuno-oncology therapeutics, which may eventually treat many different cancers that currently have unsatisfactory treatment options,” Poseida CEO Eric Ostertag said in a statement.

Poseida’s license agreement with Janssen builds on a nearly year-long relationship th0at began between Janssen and Transposagen Biopharmaceuticals, from which Poseida was spun out as a privately-held human therapeutics developer in January.

Transposagen has transferred to Poseida the original three-year drug development and license agreement inked with Janssen in November 2014. Under that agreement, the companies agreed to partner to develop at least two allogeneic CAR-T product candidates, with both agreeing to work together on preclinical development and Janssen agreeing to oversee manufacturing and commercialization. In return, Poseida was eligible for milestone payments of up to $292 million per product candidate and tiered royalty payments.

In May, the company said it had begun drug development operations at J&J’s JLABS incubator in San Diego, a 40,000-square-foot facility that features core research labs hosting specialized capital equipment, shared administrative areas and individual bench, wet lab and office modules. The agreement for space did not grant Janssen any ownership stake in Poseida.

Poseida’s immuno-oncology research effort at JLABS is headed by Devon Shedlock, Ph.D., the company’s  director of immuno-oncology and the former associate director of the T-Cell Engineering Core that is part of the research group of Carl H. June, M.D. at the University of Pennsylvania.

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