Scripps Research’s nonprofit drug development division Calibr-Skaggs Institute for Innovative Medicines has expanded its option and license agreement with AbbVie to develop new cell therapies for solid tumours and autoimmune diseases.

Under the expanded collaboration, both firms will further explore Calibr-Skaggs’ switchable CAR-T (sCAR-T) platform to develop novel cell therapy candidates against solid tumour targets identified by AbbVie.

AbbVie can also explore the application of the sCAR-T platform in autoimmune diseases.

The sCART method developed by Calibr-Skaggs manages the activation of cells using an antibody-based switch that, when dosed periodically, binds to both the sCAR-T cell component and a tumour antigen.

Additionally, sCAR-T’s distinct mechanism might make it more effective against solid tumours, Scripps Research said.

Calibr-Skaggs sCAR-T program lead and biologics vice president  Travis Young said: “The activity of our switchable CAR-T cell platform has exceeded even our expectations in these early clinical results.

“We greatly value AbbVie’s ongoing partnership to explore this platform in solid tumours and autoimmune diseases.

“We believe this platform has the potential to make a significant impact across solid tumours, an area where traditionally CAR-T has not demonstrated much activity.”

Under the terms of the deal, AbbVie will maintain exclusive access to the switchable CAR-T platform for a maximum of five years and pay an upfront license fee to Calibr-Skaggs.

Additionally, AbbVie will have the opportunity to assess the potential of sCAR-Ts in the treatment of autoimmune disorders.

The American pharmaceutical company also has the option to license the current Calibr-Skaggs cell therapy programmes that are being developed for haematological and solid cancers, including the lead programme.

Calibr-Skaggs is eligible to receive success-based milestone payments and royalties.

AbbVie vice president and discovery research global head Jonathon Sedgwick said: “We are dedicated to pursuing innovation that offers a potential solution to existing treatment challenges in oncology and immunology.

“Unlike traditional CAR-T cell therapies, Calibr-Skaggs’ innovative approach may offer enhanced control and precision for activating CAR-Ts, thus potentially reducing adverse effects of existing CAR-T cell therapies.”