Vertex Pharmaceuticals (VRTX) and CRISPR Therapeutics (CRSP) Amend Collaboration for Development, Manufacturing and Commercialization of CTX001 in Sickle Cell Disease and Beta Thalassemia

April 20, 2021 7:39 AM EDT

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Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (NASDAQ: VRTX) and CRISPR Therapeutics (NASDAQ: CRSP) today announced that the companies have amended their collaboration agreement to develop, manufacture and commercialize CTX001, an investigational CRISPR/Cas9-based gene editing therapy that is being developed as a potentially curative therapy for sickle cell disease (SCD) and transfusion-dependent beta-thalassemia (TDT). With this revised agreement, Vertex will deploy the breadth of its established global capabilities and proven experience in manufacturing, development, regulatory, and commercialization to maximize the potential for CTX001 to transform the lives of tens of thousands of patients in the U.S., Europe and other countries. CRISPR Therapeutics will continue to support the development of CTX001 and invest in further innovation to maximize its potential.

Under the terms of the amended agreement, Vertex will lead global development, manufacturing and commercialization of CTX001 with support from CRISPR Therapeutics. Vertex will be responsible for 60% of program costs and will receive 60% of profits from future sales of CTX001 worldwide, representing a 10% increase in program economics compared to the previous agreement. CRISPR will be responsible for 40% of costs and will receive 40% of profits. Additionally, CRISPR will receive a $900 million upfront payment, with potential for a $200 million payment upon the first regulatory approval of CTX001.

“Cell and genetic therapies are key to our strategy of developing transformative therapies for serious diseases, and this agreement is an important next step in cementing our leadership in these modalities as we bring forward our broad gene and cell-based therapeutics portfolio. As we take the lead on CTX001, we want to acknowledge the foundational contributions by the team at CRISPR Therapeutics,” said Jeffrey Leiden, M.D., Ph.D., Executive Chairman of Vertex. “Our increased investment in our partnership with CRISPR is based on the compelling clinical profile of CTX001, which shows its potential to be a durable cure for patients with SCD and TDT, and the rapid progress that we and our partners at CRISPR have made toward registration and commercialization. We see a significant commercial opportunity for CTX001, and we believe we will be able to further enhance that opportunity by fully leveraging the breadth of Vertex’s capabilities – including our established and proven R&D and commercialization expertise in serious diseases – to bring CTX001 to more patients around the world, more quickly.”

“Working with Vertex, we have made tremendous progress with CTX001, the first CRISPR/Cas9-based therapy to demonstrate proof of concept in the clinic and together we have broken new ground in the treatment of genetic diseases. We have now dosed more than 30 patients with CTX001, with longest follow-up beyond two years, and we are on track to complete enrollment in both clinical trials this year,” said Samarth Kulkarni, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer of CRISPR Therapeutics. “Given the transformative results and momentum that we have generated with this program, we are adopting a new operating model to enable a globally coordinated launch of CTX001, leveraging Vertex’s best-in-class global capabilities and leadership in development, manufacturing, and commercialization to enable this medicine to reach all patients that can benefit from it as quickly as possible. We remain deeply committed to the Sickle Cell and Thalassemia patient communities and look forward to continued success in our partnership with Vertex.”

The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and clearances, including clearance under the Hart-Scott Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act.

About CTX001CTX001 is an investigational, autologous, ex vivo CRISPR/Cas9 gene-edited therapy that is being evaluated for patients suffering from TDT or severe SCD, in which a patient’s hematopoietic stem cells are edited to produce high levels of fetal hemoglobin (HbF; hemoglobin F) in red blood cells. HbF is a form of the oxygen-carrying hemoglobin that is naturally present at birth, which then switches to the adult form of hemoglobin. The elevation of HbF by CTX001 has the potential to alleviate transfusion requirements for patients with TDT and reduce painful and debilitating sickle crises for patients with SCD.

Based on progress in this program to date, CTX001 has been granted Regenerative Medicine Advanced Therapy (RMAT), Fast Track, Orphan Drug, and Rare Pediatric Disease designations from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for both TDT and SCD. CTX001 has also been granted Orphan Drug Designation from the European Commission for both TDT and SCD, as well as Priority Medicines (PRIME) designation from the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for SCD.

Among gene-editing approaches being investigated/evaluated for TDT and SCD, CTX001 is the furthest advanced in clinical development.



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