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Intellia bags first pharma CRISPR deal

January 8, 2015 2:42 AM UTC

Intellia Therapeutics LLC (Cambridge, Mass.) on Wednesday announced a deal with Novartis AG (NYSE:NVS; SIX:NOVN) that assures the biotech's runway for five years while leaving plenty of room for additional deals. In the first biotech-pharma deal for a CRISPR- Cas9 technology, Novartis received exclusive rights to use Intellia's gene-editing platform for ex vivo engineering of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells. The partners also will use the technology to jointly develop hematopoietic stem cell (HSC) therapies and will divvy up rights to those programs via an undisclosed process. The biotech retains rights to use its technology with all other cell types and for developing in vivo CRISPR therapeutics, including the right to license any resulting programs to other partners.

Novartis will make an undisclosed upfront payment and pay a technology access fee and will provide R&D funding for the five-year term of the deal. CEO Nessan Bermingham told BioCentury that, combined with a $15 million series A round announced in November, Intellia now has enough capital to last five years and to get its first few products into the clinic (see BioCentury, Nov. 24, 2014). ...