AbbVie drops Caribou’s CRISPR-edited CAR-T therapies after failed trials

AbbVie drops Caribou’s CRISPR-edited CAR-T therapies after failed trials

AbbVie has chosen to end its partnership with Caribou Biosciences, signaling a significant shift in its strategic focus. This decision severs the ties between the Big Pharma and the biotech, resulting in Caribou losing the potential to earn substantial milestone payments, reaching up to $350 million per program. According to Caribou, AbbVie’s move was not influenced by any shortcomings in Caribou’s performance or the data generated during their collaboration.

This development adds to a recent trend of partner pruning at AbbVie, which has terminated alliances with Harpoon Therapeutics and I-Mab in the past two weeks.

AbbVie initially entered into a partnership with Caribou in early 2021, providing $30 million upfront and investing an additional $10 million in the biotech to jointly work on two CAR-T programs. Caribou saw this collaboration as external validation of the potential of its Cas12a chRDNA technology to enhance genome-editing precision and efficiency.

Under the partnership agreement, Caribou was entitled to receive up to $150 million in developmental, regulatory, and commercialization milestones, as well as up to $200 million in sales-based milestones for each program. AbbVie had selected targets for two programs and had the option to designate two additional targets. These additional targets could have been substituted into the initial programs or used for two new programs in an expanded collaboration. However, instead of advancing these programs, AbbVie has chosen to terminate the agreement and return all licenses to Caribou.

Also Read: AbbVie Drops Option On Harpoon’s BCMA TriTAC For Multiple Myeloma

As a result, Caribou will now shift its focus to its internal pipeline, prominently featuring allogeneic CAR-T cell therapies targeting CD19 and BCMA. Both of these candidates are currently in clinical trials and offer the potential for an off-the-shelf alternative to existing cell therapies like Gilead’s Yescarta and Johnson & Johnson’s Carvykti.

Pfizer stepped in to support Caribou’s pipeline by investing $25 million in July. This funding will be dedicated to advancing the clinical development of Caribou’s allogeneic anti-BCMA CAR-T cell therapy known as CB-011. This strategic pivot underscores the resilience and adaptability of Caribou Biosciences as it navigates the evolving landscape of biopharmaceutical partnerships and research initiatives.

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