Imugene has successfully completed a strategic transaction with Precision BioSciences to acquire global rights for azercabtagene zapreleucel (azer-cel), Precision's lead allogeneic CAR-T candidate for cancer treatment.
In exchange for global rights to azer-cel for cancer treatment and the company's CAR-T infrastructure, Precision will receive upfront payments totaling $21 million, in a combination of cash and equity. Additionally, Precision stands to gain up to $198 million in milestone payments and royalties on net sales for azer-cel.
According to their agreement, Sydney Australia-based Imugene will manage the ongoing clinical execution of azer-cel for large B-cell lymphoma patients who have relapsed after autologous CAR-T treatment. This deal also includes an option to develop up to three additional cancer research programs in the future.
Precision's PBCAR19B stealth cell and CAR-T assets for multiple myeloma, along with non-oncology indications for azer-cel, will be available for development through partnerships exclusively.
Precision says it expects the transaction to reduce it's annual operating expenses by approximately $20 million and shift the company's focus to in vivo gene editing. The upfront cash from the deal, along with lowered CAR-T operating expenses, is projected to extend Precision's cash runway through the end of 2025.
According to Precision CEO Michael Amoroso, the deal will allow the company to pivot its "full attention and resources to leveraging the core features of ARCUS for differentiated in vivo gene editing programs." ARCUS, the company's proprietary genome editing platform, was designed to optimize therapeutic safety, delivery and control. It was also the center of a deal with Novartis inked last year, focused on in vivo gene editing therapies for sickle cell disease and other blood diseases.