Beam Therapeutics and Japan’s Bio Palette Strike Base Editing Cross-Collaboration Agreement
Bio Palette is developing new genome editing technologies for use in various fields, including agriculture and the microbiome. Beam Therapeutics is developing precision genetic medicines through base editing. Under terms of the agreement, Bio Palette is granting Cambridge, Mass.-based Beam the license to develop its intellectual property in the field of human therapeutics, with the exception of rights to microbiome related therapeutics in Asia, which the company will retain. Beam is granting Bio Palette a license to its intellectual property to develop microbiome-related therapeutics in Asia.
Both companies said they plan to work together in order to strengthen their competitive positions. Financial terms of the agreement include an undisclosed upfront payment to Bio Palette from Beam, an equity position in Beam by Bio Palette and royalties from sales of potentially commercialized products by Beam or Bio Palette to the other party.
For Beam, the collaboration with Bio Palette comes about three months after the company announced it closed a $135 million Series B financing round. Beam, which is one of BioSpace’s NextGen Bio “Class of 2019” Life Science Startups to Watch in 2019, launched only one year ago. The company’s multiple DNA base editor platforms are considered a more precise form of CRISPR gene editing. In April, the company presented data at the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy annual meeting that showed its base editor BE4 demonstrated high-efficiency multiplex base editing of three cell surface targets in primary human T cells, TRAC, B2M, and PD-1. BE4 knocked out expression of each gene in 95 percent, 95 percent and 88 percent of cells, respectively, in a single electroporation, the company said. Each of the genes was silenced by a single targeted base change without the creation of double strand breaks. That precision showed that the editing of each of the genes may be useful in the creation of CAR-T cell therapies with improved therapeutic properties, Beam said at the time.
Beam Chief Executive Officer John Evans called the collaboration exciting. He said the companies will both benefit from the deal in their respective areas of “base editing expertise.”
“This agreement further strengthens our leadership position in developing base editing for human therapeutics, and will enable Beam to take advantage of Bio Palette’s unique and valuable expertise in Japan,” Evans said in a statement.
Akihiko Kondo, director of Bio Palette, noted the importance of based editing as a potential therapeutic approach in the microbiome. With both companies being pioneers in base editing, Kondo said Beam Therapeutics is a natural partner for Bio Palette as the company continues to “enhance our focus on the development of microbiome-based therapeutics and to be a global leader in this field.”