Precision reacquires rights to allogeneic CAR-Ts from Servier

Precision BioSciences has reacquired the global rights to its allogeneic CAR-T programs. The deal with Servier gives Precision control of assets including a clinical-phase CD19 candidate that it sold off back in 2016 for $105 million.

Through the deal, Precision has regained the global rights to a CD19 therapy that is in phase 1/2a and a clutch of earlier-stage assets. The rest of the pipeline is led by a CD19 candidate that features modifications intended to reduce rejection by T cells and NK cells. Precision has also regained rights to four recently nominated targets in hematological malignancies and solid tumors.

Matt Kane, co-founder and CEO of Precision, said the deal followed an assessment of the allogeneic CAR-T landscape that persuaded his team to buy back the assets and reap the potential benefits. 

“We now have vastly better back-end economics on the programs, we have full control over which of these targets and strategies we pursue and importantly when. This now allows us to react more quickly to the data and to the evolving competitive landscape. We now have control over when and how we might partner the assets,” Kane said on a conference call with investors to discuss the deal.

To regain the assets, Precision is paying $1.25 million in cash and agreeing to waive $18.75 million in milestones that have been earned but are yet to be paid. Precision is also on the hook for low to mid-single digit royalties if any of the candidates come to market.

The deal is the latest in a series of transactions involving the assets. Baxalta paid $105 million to work with Precision early in 2016. Months later, Shire merged with Baxalta. Shire offloaded the CAR-Ts to Servier as part of the sale of its oncology business in 2018. Servier sold the rights to Precision amid the refocusing of its R&D activities. 

As the assets changed hands over the past five years, Precision continued to advance the pipeline, moving the lead candidate into the clinic in 2019 and going on to share early data last year. The FDA accepted the IND for the second CD19 candidate in January, positioning Precision to dose the first  patient next month.

Precision disclosed the Servier deal alongside news of its appointment of Alan List, M.D., as chief medical officer. List was president and CEO of Moffitt Cancer Center but resigned after an internal review found he and a colleague violated “conflict of interest rules through their work in China.” Precision has been accessing List’s expertise on an advisory basis for the past year.