Gene editing company Editas Medicine and Bristol Myers Squibb have extended their autologous and allogeneic alpha-beta T cell therapies collaboration for two years.

Under the partnership, the Nasdaq-listed Editas Medicine and Bristol Myers Squibb will research, develop, and market T cell medicines for cancer and autoimmune diseases.

The extension includes the opportunity to prolong the collaboration for up to two more years.

As part of the collaboration, Bristol Myers Squibb has chosen to participate in 13 different programmes targeting 11 genes so far.

Currently, two programmes are undergoing investigational new drug (IND)-enabling studies, while four programs are in the late-stage discovery phase.

Editas Medicine chief scientific officer Linda Burkly said: “Bristol Myers Squibb is a leader in advancing innovative medicines to treat serious diseases, and we are pleased to extend our relationship to develop medicines for serious diseases.

“As we’ve increased our internal commitment to advancing in vivo gene editing medicines, we believe this collaboration will be effective in making the next generation of allogeneic medicines to fight many common cancers.”

According to the initial agreement, Editas Medicine has the option to develop genome editing tools, while Bristol Myers Squibb holds the option to utilise them for the development of gene-edited alpha-beta T cell therapies.

In return, the gene editing company will receive potential future milestone payments for every new experimental medicine that Bristol Myers Squibb brings to market using the opted-in genome editing tools.

Additionally, Editas Medicine is entitled to receive tiered royalties based on net sales upon approval of any products resulting from this partnership.

The company uses CRISPR/Cas12a and CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing systems to develop therapies for people living with serious diseases globally.

In 2015, Editas Medicine and Juno Therapeutics (now Bristol Myers Squibb, formerly Celgene) signed a research collaboration to develop chimeric antigen receptor T (CAR T) and high-affinity T cell receptor (TCR) cell therapies for cancer.

Expected to conclude in 2020, the research period of the collaboration was extended in 2019 with Celgene/Bristol Myers Squibb taking over the original agreement.