2023-02-23| Licensing

Lineage Books Eterna For Allogeneic Cell Therapies In License Option Deal

by Joy Lin
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Lineage Cell Therapeutics has entered an exclusive option and license agreement with fellow American company Eterna Therapeutics for the development of beta 2 microglobulin (B2M)-deficient induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) lines. 

With several pipeline therapies in the clinic, Lineage is hoping that new cell line candidates presented by Eterna can be further developed into cell transplant therapies. According to Lineage, product candidates will specifically target certain central nervous system (CNS) disorders and other neurology indications. The financial details of the agreement have not been revealed. 

Related Article: Karuna Licenses Goldfinch’s Mood Disorder Candidates For Potential $535 Million

Deleting B2M to Create Hypoimmune Cell Lines

In November 2022, Lineage announced the launch of a Phase 2a study by partner Genentech of a retinal pigment epithelial cell therapy called OpRegen for geographic atrophy secondary to age-related macular degeneration. 

“This agreement provides the opportunity to combine insights obtained from our dry age-related macular degeneration program with new tools, to broaden the scope of our technology and may help deliver solutions for a wider range of diseases. The engineering of desirable properties into cell lines can also lead to treatments that are highly differentiated from our competitors,” stated Brian M. Culley, Lineage’s CEO. 

“The initial cell lines we envision bringing into the clinic through this agreement will utilize proprietary mRNA-based gene-editing technology developed by Eterna’s CEO, Dr. Matt Angel.”

Cell therapies that do not stimulate the immune response are considered hypoimmune, and is one of the goals of allogeneic or “off-the-shelf” cell therapies. 

Eterna has laid down plans to conduct gene editing on its potential hypoimmune cell lines for Lineage. One of the features is the targeted deletion of the B2M gene, which is designed to reduce the immunogenicity of product candidates by inhibiting rejection by host CD8+ T cells. This will improve the overall utility of edited cell lines, including for non-immune privileged or non-human leukocyte antigen (HLA) matched indications, said Eterna. 

The company is also planning more gene edits that may further distinguish the cell line from competitors. 

“At Eterna, we have expertise in creating gene-edited iPSC lines using our extensively patented mRNA cell engineering technologies,” said Matt Angel, Ph.D., CEO of Eterna.

“We look forward to collaborating with the Lineage team on this project and working with them to develop these powerful tools for the generation of new, intelligently-engineered cell therapy product candidates in the CNS space.”

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