Obsidian Therapeutics Announces Strategic Collaboration with Celgene to Develop Novel Cell Therapies with Tunable Immunomodulatory Factors, Opening Potential for CAR-T and Other Cellular Medicines in New Settings

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.–Obsidian Therapeutics, a biotechnology company developing cell therapies with pharmacologic operating systems, today announced a strategic collaboration with Celgene Corporation (NASDAQ: CELG) for the discovery and development of novel, regulated cell therapies that utilize Obsidian’s Destabilizing Domain (DD) technology. Specifically, the collaboration is based on Obsidian’s DD technology for the controlled expression of two immunomodulatory factors, IL12 and CD40L, that have the potential to augment the power of adoptive cell therapies but require precise control to optimize their therapeutic benefit.
This multi-year collaboration provides Celgene with the exclusive option to in-license worldwide rights for cell therapy candidates that incorporate DD-regulated IL12 or CD40L for the treatment of cancer. The collaboration includes an upfront payment and equity investment by Celgene, and potential future milestone and royalty payments.
“Obsidian’s technology has the potential to unlock the activity of cell therapy in a number of new settings, particularly against solid tumor malignancies, and this is a prime example of the new technologies that we see enabling broader applications for CAR-T and cell therapies for the treatment of cancer,” said Robert Hershberg, MD, PhD, Executive Vice President, Business Development & Global Alliances for Celgene Corporation. “We value the innovation that the Obsidian team can bring and we look forward to working together to bring powerful new immunotherapies to patients.”
This strategic agreement is Obsidian’s first collaboration with a major pharmaceutical company to deploy its DD technology. Obsidian’s technology enables integration and precise pharmacologic control of potent new activities in cell therapies and offers additional capabilities to Celgene’s portfolio of cellular immunotherapies for cancer.
“This collaboration focuses the Obsidian team on product development, accelerates the advance of our innovative technology toward clinical applications, and positions us to expand our own platform and portfolio,” said Michael Gilman, PhD, CEO of Obsidian. “We are thrilled to be partnering with Celgene and will benefit from their capabilities in the development and commercialization of cancer medicines. We share an ambitious vision of the potential for cell therapy to benefit patients with cancer and look forward to working together with the Celgene team to realize it.”
About Obsidian’s Destabilizing Domain Technology
Obsidian is developing cell therapies that incorporate Destabilizing Domains (DDs) to regulate expression of immunomodulatory factors, thereby providing precise pharmacologic control of the potent activity of these agents to optimize their safety and efficacy in engineered cell therapies. DDs are small, human protein domains that confer conditional stability to a fused payload protein that is engineered into a cell or gene therapy product. In the absence of a specific small-molecule ligand, the fusion protein is rapidly degraded, whereas in the presence of the ligand the fusion protein becomes stable and functional. Obsidian uses this approach to equip engineered cell therapies with controllable functions that can be precisely and dynamically tuned by the administration of small-molecule medicines that are currently approved, readily available, and can be dispensed by the treating physician.
About Obsidian Therapeutics
Obsidian Therapeutics is a biotechnology company developing next-generation cell and gene therapies with pharmacologic operating systems based on proprietary Destabilizing Domains (DD) technology. Obsidian’s lead programs incorporate controllable functions into CAR-T and other cellular medicines so they can be precisely tuned by a companion small-molecule medicine to control and optimize therapeutic effect. Obsidian is using DD technology to create a suite of regulated factors that can be incorporated into cell and gene therapies to provide pharmacological control of enhanced therapies for cancer and other diseases. Based upon the work of Professor Thomas Wandless, a leading researcher in chemical and systems biology, Obsidian was founded in 2015 and is funded by a strong syndicate of venture investors. The company is headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Please visit www.obsidiantx.com.


Kathryn Morris, The Yates Network

Shiwani Sharma

Shiwani Sharma was Senior Editor at PharmaShots. She has in-depth knowledge of the life sciences industry including the Pharma and Biotech sectors. Any articles written by her can be contacted at connect@pharmashots.com.

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