Drug Research
Drug Discovery & Development

AbbVie, Calibr partner to develop T-cell therapies for solid tumors

Published 26 June 2018

Biopharmaceutical firm AbbVie and Calibr, the drug discovery division of Scripps Research, have entered into a collaboration to develop T-cell therapies aimed mainly at cancer, including solid tumors.

This collaboration broadens AbbVie's oncology research to access advanced precision medicine technology to expand the development of potentially life-changing treatments for patients with cancer.

Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell (CAR-T) therapies harness the power of a cancer patient's own immune system to attack and destroy cancer cells.

Despite promising results in hematological malignancies, current CAR-T therapies in development for solid tumors have demonstrated limitations due to rapid activation and expansion of CAR-T cells that can lead to serious adverse events.

Calibr's novel cell therapy program, led by Travis Young, Ph.D., director of protein sciences at Calibr, is designed to enhance safety, versatility and efficacy through a proprietary modular "switchable" CAR-T cell that uses antibody-based switch molecules to control the activation and antigen specificity of CAR-T cells.

Calibr's proprietary technology may enable the development of universal CAR-T-based treatments across several types of hematological and solid tumor indications.

AbbVie oncology early development vice president and head Mohit Trikha said: "Calibr has assembled a premier scientific team and developed an innovative cell therapy technology that can take us to the next frontier of cancer treatment.

"The combination of AbbVie's oncology discovery and early development expertise and Calibr's novel switchable CAR-T therapy platform aims to advance the current standard of care, with the potential rapidly advancing new treatment options for patients."

Calibr and Scripps Research CEO Peter Schultz said: "We're delighted to work together with a strong partner like AbbVie to expand the impact of the CAR-T cell field to a broader range of cancers.”

Under the terms of the license agreement, AbbVie will pay Calibr an upfront license fee and gain exclusive access to Calibr's switchable CAR-T platform for a term of up to four years.

The two organizations will work together to develop T-cell therapies directed to solid tumor targets identified by AbbVie.

AbbVie also has the option to develop additional cell therapies toward AbbVie-nominated targets and license existing Calibr cell therapy programs under development for hematological and solid cancers, including Calibr's lead program.

Calibr plans to enter this lead candidate into clinical studies for lymphoma in 2019. In addition, the agreement provides AbbVie with an option to acquire an exclusive license to Calibr's switchable CAR-T platform and programs within the first four years of the collaboration.

The companies will share responsibility for preclinical development, with AbbVie responsible for clinical development and commercialization, and Calibr eligible to receive success-based milestone payments and royalties.

The transaction is subject to clearance under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act.

Source: Company Press Release