SAN DIEGO, Oct. 17, 2022 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Eterna Therapeutics Inc. (Nasdaq: ERNA) (“Eterna” or the “Company”), a biopharmaceutical company using advanced cell engineering technology to develop transformational new medicines, today announced it has entered into an option agreement with Exacis Biotherapeutics Inc. (“Exacis”) granting Eterna the right to negotiate an exclusive, worldwide license to develop and commercialize up to four iPS cell-derived natural killer cell (“iNK”) and/or T cell (“iT”) programs for hematologic malignancies and solid tumors.
“Exacis’ preclinical data, presented earlier this year at the 25th Annual Meeting of the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy (ASGCT), provide compelling evidence that its iNK and iT cells exhibit the characteristics needed for the development of next-generation off-the-shelf iPS cell therapies for the treatment of cancer,” said Matt Angel, Ph.D., Interim Chief Executive Officer of Eterna.
Exacis makes its cells using non-viral, mRNA-based cell engineering, including a proprietary ‘stealthing’ approach designed to increase the persistence of therapeutic cells in vivo and minimize or eliminate the need for patient pre-conditioning. Exacis’ technology includes high-yield manufacturing processes and the ability to add advanced targeting molecules, including CARs and TCRs. “We believe that Exacis’ approach will be preferred by regulatory authorities over earlier-generation iPS cell technologies, many of which rely on viruses or potentially mutagenic pieces of DNA called episomes,” said Dr. Angel.
“We are thrilled to partner with Eterna on these exciting programs,” said Gregory Fiore, M.D., President and CEO of Exacis. Dr. Fiore also serves as a member of Eterna’s board of directors. “We look forward to working with Eterna to bring these novel next-generation iNK and iT cell therapies to patients with cancer who need new treatment options.”
Under the agreement, Eterna and Exacis have until December 31, 2022 to negotiate and execute a license agreement.
The Company also announced completion of its name change from Brooklyn ImmunoTherapeutics, Inc. to Eterna Therapeutics Inc.
Eterna is focused on developing advanced therapies using state-of-the-art mRNA cell engineering technology. Its mission is to realize the potential of cell engineering to provide patients with transformational new medicines. The Company has in-licensed a portfolio of over 100 patents covering key cell engineering technologies, including what it believes are the most widely used methods for therapeutic gene editing currently in clinical development. Eterna has multiple next-generation cell and gene-editing therapies in preclinical development for various indications. For more information, please visit www.eternatx.com.
Exacis is a development stage immuno-oncology company focused on harnessing the human immune system to cure cancer by engineering next generation off-the-shelf NK and T cell therapies aimed at hematologic malignancies and solid tumors. Exacis was founded in 2020 with an exclusive global license to a broad suite of patents covering the use of mRNA based cell reprogramming and gene editing technologies for use in generating engineered NK and T cells for oncology applications. Exacis’ approach avoids the use of DNA and viruses and instead uses a proprietary mRNA based technology. Exacis uses the technology to generate iPSCs and to edit their genome to create stealthed, performance enhanced allogeneic NK and T cell products, termed ExaNK™, ExaCAR-NK™ and ExaCAR-T™ cells.
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 cellular, gene editing and cytokine programs; (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; (v) Eterna ’s ability to obtain regulatory approvals of its products for commercialization; and (vi) uncertainties related to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the business and financial condition of Eterna, including on the timing and cost of its clinical trials. 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, 2021, as amended, as well as under similar headings in Eterna’s subsequently filed Quarterly Reports on Form 10-Q and Current Reports on Form 8-K.