Precision BioSciences closes second deal for leading CAR T candidate
Durham-based gene editing company Precision BioSciences has cut a second deal in six months involving its leading off-the-shelf CAR T candidate, Azercabtagene Zapreleucel (azer-cel).
Precision said it has reached an agreement with TG Therapeutics to develop azer-cel as a treatment for autoimmune diseases and other indications outside oncology. The company previously sold global rights to Imugene Limited in August 2023 to develop azer-cel as a cancer therapy. CAR T cell technology can use specially altered T cells – a part of the immune system – to attack cancer.
As part of the deal with TG Therapeutics, Precision will receive an upfront payment of $7.5 million in cash and the purchase of stock and $2.5 million more within 12 months as an equity investment. Precision is eligible for an additional $7.5 million in cash and stock purchases if certain clinical milestones are achieved. There also is the possibility of up to $288 million in payments down the road if other clinical, regulatory and commercial targets are met.
Precision said the upfront and potential near-term cash from its two azer-cel transactions should extend its cash runway into the first half of 2026, when it is scheduled to receive clinical phase 1 readouts for its hepatitis B virus and mitochondrial DNA programs.
“We are excited to extend the utility of our allogeneic CAR T assets into immunology by collaborating with TG Therapeutics as they advance novel treatments for B-cell diseases,” said Michael Amoroso, president and CEO of Precision. “Key factors in our decision to partner with the TG team include their recent development, regulatory and commercial successes in the multiple sclerosis space, which we believe are strong indicators of their commitment and expertise they will bring to the development of azer-cel in autoimmune diseases.”
Precision specializes in clinical-stage gene editing using its proprietary ARCUS technology, which was discovered by company scientists. It uses DNA-cutting enzymes – or nucleases – to insert, remove or repair the DNA of living cells and organisms. ARCUS is based on a naturally occurring genome editing enzyme, I-Crel, which evolved in a type of algae.
Precision was spun out of Duke University in 2006 and went public in March 2009. Its shares are listed on the Nasdaq Global Select Market under the ticker symbol “DTIL,” shorthand for the company’s marketing tagline “Dedicated to Improving Life.”
Precision’s pipeline has included several off-the-shelf CAR T immunotherapy clinical and in vivo-gene-correction therapy candidates. They are targeted at curing genetic and infectious diseases for which no adequate treatments exist.