AbbVie and Calibr to Collaborate on CAR T-Cell Development

Samantha DiGrande

Drug manufacturer AbbVie, and a nonprofit drug discovery division of Scripps Research, Calibr, announced earlier this week that they are partnering to develop chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapies primarily aimed at treating cancer and, particularly, solid tumors. 

Thus far, CAR T-cell treatments have been successful in treating hematological cancers, as demonstrated by the FDA-approval of Yescarta and Kymriah. “Current CAR T-therapies in development for solid tumors have demonstrated limitations due to rapid activation and expansion of CAR T cells that can lead to serious adverse events,” according to a press release from Calibr.

Calibr plans to address these concerns by utilizing its novel cell therapy program to enhance the safety, versatility, and efficacy of CAR T cells in treating solid tumors through a proprietary modular “switchable” CAR T cell that “uses antibody-based switch molecules to control the activation and antigen specificity of CAR T cells.” 

“Calibr has assembled a premier scientific team and developed an innovative cell therapy technology that can take us to the next frontier of cancer treatment. The combination of AbbVie’s oncology discovery and early development expertise and Calibr’s novel switchable CAR T therapy platform aims to advance the current standard of care, with the potential rapidly advancing new treatment options for patients,” said Mohit Trikha, PhD, vice president and head of oncology early development at AbbVie in a statement.

In the agreement, AbbVie will pay Calibr a license fee to gain exclusive access to the proprietary CAR T technology for up to 4 years. AbbVie also has the option to develop additional cell therapies toward their own clinical targets using the switchable CAR T program. Additionally, the companies will share responsibility for preclinical development and AbbVie will commercialize the jointly-developed drug. Calibr will be eligible to receive success-based milestone payments and loyalties. 

“We’re delighted to work together with a strong partner like AbbVie to expand the impact of the CAR T cell field to a broader range of cancers,” said Peter Schultz, PhD, CEO of Calibr and Scripps Research in a statement. 
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