AbbVie and Umoja Biopharma have entered into two exclusive option and license agreements to develop multiple in-situ generated CAR-T cell therapy candidates in oncology.
The first agreement provides AbbVie an exclusive option to license Umoja’s CD19 directed in-situ generated CAR-T cell therapy candidates. This includes UB-VV111, Umoja’s lead clinical programme for haematologic malignancies currently at the IND-enabling phase.
In non-human primate studies, the therapy has demonstrated effective, durable, and well tolerated in vivo CAR-T cell generation.
Under the terms of the second agreement, AbbVie and Umoja will develop up to four additional in-situ generated CAR-T cell therapy candidates for discovery targets selected by AbbVie.
“As we continue to strengthen our oncology portfolio, we believe that in-situ CAR-T cell therapy represents a paradigm shift utilising genetic medicine concepts,” said Jonathon Sedgwick, Vice President and Global Head of Discovery Research at AbbVie. “We look forward to working with Umoja’s team to advance next-generation in-situ CAR-T therapies, and potentially expand the patient populations and indications benefitting from conventional CAR-T approaches.”
Umoja’s VivoVec gene delivery platform combines third generation lentiviral vector gene delivery with a T-cell targeting and activation surface complex. According to the company, it has the potential to eliminate some of the challenges associated with traditional CAR-T approaches. These include reliance on gathering a patient’s own or donor cells, the associated time lag and manufacturing challenges of ex vivo cell modification, and the need for patient’s lymphodepletion.
Under the terms of the two agreements, Umoja received upfront payments and an equity investment from AbbVie. Additionally, for the two agreements combined, Umoja may be eligible to receive up to $1.44B in aggregate for option exercise fees, development and regulatory milestones.