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AbbVie (ABBV) Inks CAR T Deal, Gets Botox Label Expansion Nod

AbbVie ABBV announced that it has inked a collaboration and license agreement with privately-held CRISPR editing company, Caribou Biosciences, to develop new chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T cell therapeutics.

AbbVie will use Caribou’s next-generation Cas12a CRISPR hybrid RNA-DNA (chRDNA) genome editing and cell therapy technologies to develop two allogenic new CAR-T therapies for selected targets that can withstand host immune attack and offer greater benefits to patients.

In a separate press release, AbbVie announced that the FDA has approved a label expansion of its multi-therapeutic drug, Botox. The drug is nowapproved for treating pediatric patients, aged five years or more, with detrusor (bladder muscle) overactivity associated with a neurological condition. It will be available for patients who have an inadequate response to or are intolerant of anticholinergic medication. It is the first drug to receive approval for this indication in the pediatric patient population.The approval marks the 12th approved therapeutic indication for Botox in United States.

Shares of AbbVie have gained 6.3% in the past year compared with the industry’s increase of 3.1%.

We note that the company has been actively pursuing partnership deals and collaborations to strengthen its pipeline as well as diversify its product portfolio. The biggest deal among them is the acquisition of Allergan last year for a whopping $63 billion. The strategic move came amid rising generic competition for its major revenue generator, Humira. The drug’s international sales have been significantly hit by the launch of biosimilar versions, especially in Europe. Per settlements with drugmakers including Amgen AMGN, Biogen BIIB, Pfizer PFE and Mylan, Humira biosimilars are expected to be launched in the United States in 2023. The launch of biosimilar versions of Humira in the United States will hurt revenues of AbbVie significantly.

The deal with Caribou will help AbbVie to adopt one of the latest treatment technologies for oncology indications that employs engineered cells to recognize and kill cancer cells. These treatments have shown remarkable responses in some patients and has attracted several researcher and pharma companies to develop such treatments. However, rejection of allogeneic CAR-T cells by the host immune system is a key challenge to their broader development. AbbVie will use Caribou’s CRISPR genome editing platform to engineer CAR-T cells that may overcome this challenge and may benefit a broader patient population.

Per the deal, AbbVie will pay $40 million in upfront payment and up to $300 million in milestone payments as well as additional payments for commercial milestones. AbbVie will be responsible for all clinical research, development, and manufacturing activities for the collaboration programs. In exchange, AbbVie will gain exclusive rights to Caribou's next-generation genome editing and cell therapy technologies for the selected targets. AbbVie also has the option to expand the collaboration to include up to an additional two CAR-T cell therapies by paying an undisclosed fee.

AbbVie Inc. Price

AbbVie Inc. Price
AbbVie Inc. Price

AbbVie Inc. price | AbbVie Inc. Quote

Zacks Rank

AbbVie currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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