$250m CAR-T startup ‘validates’ Intellia’s allogeneic and CRISPR platforms

Intellia Therapeutics, Blackstone, and Cellex have launched a CAR-T biotech aimed at developing chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapies.

The new company will combine Intellia’s allogeneic cell platform and CRISPR cell engineering with Cellex subsidiary GEMoaB’s switchable universal CAR-T platforms – UniCAR and RevCAR – to develop a range of therapies against various cancers, including solid tumors.

Blackstone Life Sciences has invested $250 million in the new venture, and the three companies – Blackstone, Intellia, and Cellex – will each have equal ownership of the new company. GEMoaB, meanwhile, will be become a subsidiary of the newly established company and will continue to advance its clinical stage CAR T-cell programs.

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“Collaborations like this one are a key instrument for Intellia to strengthen investment in areas of strategic importance to us, enabling us to more quickly realize the full scope and potential of our genome-editing technology for patients in need of more effective therapies,” said Intellia CEO John Leonard.

“With today’s announcement, we can drive the expansion of our pipeline into new areas, accelerating clinical validation of what we believe to be a platform for universal, allogeneic CAR-T cell therapies. Further, we can fortify our allogeneic cell engineering capabilities for wholly owned programs through a preferred relationship with Cellex.”

Nicholas Galakatos, global head of Blackstone Life Sciences added the new company “has the potential to leapfrog current CAR-T technologies and improve the standard of care for a broad range of patients.”

The announcement was welcomed by analysts, with RBC Capital Markets’ Luca Issi noting the deal validates Itellia’s tech platforms due to the diligence undertaken by the investors and that the new entity will be able to leverage Cellex’ manufacturing network.

“Overall, we think the deal makes strategic sense as it combines Intellia’s gene editing capabilities with a clinically validated switchable CAR-T platform. Data is early, but we are intrigued by the clinical responses that Cellex has shown in acute myeloid leukemia (AML) using CAR-T.”

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