Allergan in CRISPR Eye-Drug PactBy
Allergan’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Allergan Pharmaceuticals International Limited, has entered into a strategic research and development alliance with Editas Medicine, a Cambridge, Massachusetts-based genome editing company, under which Allergan will receive exclusive access and the option to license up to five of Editas Medicine’s genome-editing ocular programs in a deal worth $90 million.
The agreement includes Editas Medicine’s lead drug program for Leber congenital amaurosis, a rare genetic eye disorder affecting the retina, which is currently in pre-clinical development. The agreement covers early-stage ocular programs targeting diseases based on Editas Medicine’s clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats (CRISPR) genome-editing platform, including CRISPR/Cas9 and CRISPR/Cpf1. CRISPR is a tool that can be programmed to target specific stretches of genetic code and edit DNA at precise locations in the human genome, allowing researchers to permanently modify genes, according to Allergan.
Under the agreement, Editas Medicine will receive an upfront payment of $90 million for the development of five candidate programs and has the potential to earn additional payments for achieving important near-term milestones specifically related to Leber congenital amaurosis. Allergan will have the option to license up to five programs under the agreement and will be responsible for development and commercialization of the optioned products, subject to Editas Medicine’s option right to co-develop and co-promote up to two optioned products in the US. Editas Medicine will also be eligible to receive development and commercial milestones, as well as royalty payments on a per-program basis.