Novartis partners with Intellia, Caribou on drug development using genome editing technology

Novartis announced Wednesday licensing agreements with Intellia Therapeutics and Caribou Biosciences focused on developing drugs using CRISPR genome editing technology. "We have glimpsed the power of CRISPR tools in our scientific programmes...and it is now time to explore how to safely extend this powerful technology to the clinic," remarked Mark Fishman, president of the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research.

According to Novartis, CRISPR allows the creation of "very specific" models of disease for use in drug discovery and also has "potential for use as a therapeutic modality for treating disease at the genetic level by deleting, repairing or replacing the genes that cause disease." Fishman commented "CRISPR has the potential to open a new branch of medicine, editing the genome to cure disease."

Novartis noted that the deal with Intellia will focus on using CRISPR ex vivo for engineering chimaeric antigen receptor T-cells (CARTs) and haematopoietic stem cells (HSCs). Under the agreed terms, the Swiss drugmaker will receive exclusive rights to develop all collaboration programmes focused on engineered CARTs and the right to develop an undisclosed number of targets for ex vivo editing of HSCs. Further, Novartis will receive non-exclusive rights for limited in vivo therapeutic applications of CRISPR systems.

As part of the five-year collaboration, Novartis said it will increase its equity investment in Intellia, as well as making an upfront payment and providing technology access fees and funding for R&D programmes. In addition, Intellia is eligible to receive success-based milestones and royalties.

Novartis indicated that the deal with Caribou is focused on using the latter's CRISPR platform and intellectual property as a research tool for drug discovery. Under the agreed terms, Novartis will receive non-exclusive rights to Caribou's CRISPR platform for research conducted during the collaboration and is providing funding for the one-year research programme. Novartis added that it is also making an equity investment in the company.

To read more Top Story articles, click here.