Acquisition includes Exacis’ entire pipeline of engineered cell therapy programs for hematologic and solid tumors
CAMBRIDGE, MASS., May 2, 2023 — Eterna Therapeutics Inc. (Nasdaq: ERNA) (“Eterna” or the “Company”), a life science company committed to realizing the potential of mRNA cell engineering to provide patients with transformational new medicines, today announced the acquisition of the global immuno-oncology platform of Exacis Biotherapeutics (“Exacis”). The acquisition complements Eterna’s core business with a pipeline of allogeneic immuno-oncology products under development for the treatment of hematologic and solid tumors and provides Eterna with an exclusive global license to produce an unlimited number of mRNA-engineered natural killer (NK) and T-cell therapies derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs).
“We are excited to bring this powerful platform into Eterna. With Exacis’ pipeline of engineered iPSC-derived cell therapy candidates, we believe Eterna is well-positioned to develop more effective, targeted and highly differentiated medicines to treat cancer,” said Matt Angel, Ph.D., Chief Executive Officer and President of Eterna. “We believe that combining the Exacis and Eterna technologies de-risks our approach and supports a capital-efficient path to develop highly competitive cancer therapeutics.”
Gregory Fiore, M.D., President and CEO of Exacis, and member of Eterna’s Board of Directors, commented, “Exacis was started with the goals of improving patient outcomes and experiences as well as increasing access to life-saving treatments. Today’s announcement marks a key milestone on the path to achieving these goals. The Eterna Board and leadership are committed to and have been working toward these same goals, and we believe that this acquisition provides Eterna with the tools required to develop next-generation therapies targeting indications of high unmet need, including blood cancers and solid tumors.”
The technology underlying Exacis’ platform uses mRNA cell reprogramming and mRNA gene editing to create engineered iPSC-derived cells for use in the development of cancer therapies that can target nearly any cancer antigen. In contrast to DNA-based reprogramming and gene editing, the mRNA-based approach does not expose cells to expensive and potentially harmful viruses or DNA vectors. Eterna plans to use Exacis’ platform to develop engineered cell therapies containing genomic edits designed to enhance their performance.
Dr. Fiore will chair a newly added committee on Eterna’s Board focusing on business development, and Eterna’s team will be joined by Exacis’ Chief Business Officer, Dimitrios Goundis, Ph.D., who will advise the Company on business development matters. Dr. Goundis is a highly experienced scientist and biotech executive, formerly the Head of Research and Development at The Medicines Company (now Novartis) as well as former CEO of the clinical stage cancer vaccine company, Maxivax S.A. Eterna plans to continue working with the esteemed physicians and scientists who serve on Exacis’ Scientific Advisory Board and who will advise Eterna on the development of products based on Eterna’s suite of mRNA cell engineering technologies.
The terms of the acquisition include an upfront payment in shares of Eterna common stock, as well as milestone and other potential payments totaling up to $49.0 million.
About Eterna Therapeutics
Eterna Therapeutics is a life science company committed to realizing the potential of mRNA cell engineering to provide patients with transformational new medicines. Eterna has in-licensed a portfolio of over 100 patents covering key mRNA cell engineering technologies, including technologies for mRNA cell reprogramming, mRNA gene editing, the NoveSlice™ and UltraSlice™ gene-editing proteins, and the ToRNAdo™ mRNA delivery system from Factor Bioscience. NoveSlice™, UltraSlice™, and ToRNAdo™ are trademarks of Factor Bioscience. For more information, please visit www.eternatx.com.
This press release contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933, as amended, and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934, as amended, which are intended to be covered by the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Forward-looking statements are any statements that are not statements of historical fact and may be identified by terminology such as “believe,” “could,” “estimate,” “anticipate,” “expect,” “plan,” “possible,” “potential,” “project,” “will” or other similar words and the negatives of such words. Forward-looking statements are based on current beliefs and assumptions that are subject to risks and uncertainties and are not guarantees of future performance. Actual results could differ materially from those stated or implied in any forward-looking statement as a result of various factors, including, but not limited to, uncertainties related to: (i) the evolution of Eterna’s business model into a platform company focused on mRNA, iPS cell and gene editing technologies; (ii) Eterna’s ability to successfully, cost-effectively and efficiently develop its technology and products; (iii) Eterna’s ability to successfully commence clinical trials of any products on a timely basis or at all; (iv) Eterna’s ability to successfully fund and manage the growth of its development activities; and (v) Eterna ’s ability to obtain regulatory approvals of its products for commercialization. You should not rely upon forward-looking statements as predictions of future events. The forward-looking statements made in this communication speak only as of the date on which they were made, and Eterna does not undertake any obligation to update the forward-looking statements contained herein to reflect events that occur or circumstances that exist after the date hereof, except as required by applicable law. Factors that may cause Eterna’s actual results to differ from those expressed or implied in forward-looking statements contained in this press release are more fully disclosed in Eterna’s periodic public filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, particularly under the heading “Risk Factors” in Eterna’s Annual Report on Form 10-K for the year ended December 31, 2022, as well as under similar headings in Eterna’s subsequently filed Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and Current Reports on Form 8-K.
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