Vertex and Molecular Templates Establish Collaboration to Discover and Develop Novel Targeted Conditioning Regimens to Enhance Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplants

-Molecular Templates to receive $38 million upfront payment, including equity investment, with potential for additional milestone and royalty payments on future sales-

BOSTON, MA and AUSTIN, TX, USA I November 18, 2019 I Vertex Pharmaceuticals Incorporated (Nasdaq: VRTX) and Molecular Templates, Inc. (Nasdaq: MTEM; “Molecular Templates” or “MTEM”) today announced that the two companies have entered into a strategic research collaboration to discover and develop novel targeted conditioning regimens that may enhance the hematopoietic stem cell transplant process, including transplants conducted as part of treatment with ex vivo CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing therapies such as CTX001.  CTX001 is currently being evaluated in two ongoing Phase 1/2 studies in patients with transfusion-dependent beta thalassemia and severe sickle cell disease, where a hematopoietic stem cell transplant is required as part of treatment with CTX001.  The collaboration will seek to discover a new conditioning regimen utilizing MTEM’s engineered toxin body (ETB) platform, which is designed to specifically target and remove specific cells to enable successful engraftment of new cells.   

“We believe that gene editing holds significant promise in the treatment of severe hemoglobinopathies such as sickle cell disease and beta thalassemia, and Molecular Templates’ unique technology platform could play an important role in creating a targeted conditioning regimen that could replace chemotherapy currently required in conditioning regimens and thus enhance the overall future treatment experience for patients,” said David Altshuler M.D., Ph.D., Executive Vice President and Chief Scientific Officer at Vertex.

“Vertex has a proven history of employing novel technologies to develop innovative medicines for diseases with high unmet medical needs, making them an ideal partner to expand the use of MTEM’s ETB platform for therapeutics outside of oncology,” said Eric Poma, Ph.D., Molecular Templates’ Chief Executive and Scientific Officer. “MTEM is excited to be working with Vertex to focus on discovering and developing the next generation of targeted conditioning agents.  This collaboration further validates the potential of our ETB platform and provides meaningful capital to support continued advancement of our own product pipeline.”

Under the collaboration, MTEM will conduct research activities for the use of ETBs for up to two targets selected by Vertex. The initial research will be focused on discovering a novel conditioning regimen using MTEM’s ETB technology platform.  In addition, Vertex has an option to select a second target as part of the collaboration.  Upon designation of a clinical development candidate that emerges from the research efforts, Vertex has the option to exclusively license molecules against the designated target.  Vertex will have exclusive rights to develop molecules that emerge from the research program for any indication.

Vertex will make an up-front payment of $38 million to MTEM, including an equity investment. MTEM is also eligible to receive future development, regulatory and sales milestones and option payments of up to $522 million (across two targets) and tiered royalty payments on future sales.

About Molecular Templates
Molecular Templates is a clinical-stage oncology company focused on the discovery and development of differentiated, targeted, biologic therapeutics for cancer. We believe our proprietary biologic drug platform technology, referred to as engineered toxin bodies, or ETBs, provides a differentiated mechanism of action that may address some of the limitations associated with currently available cancer therapeutics. ETBs utilize a genetically engineered form of Shiga-like Toxin A subunit, or SLTA, a ribosome inactivating bacterial protein, that can be targeted to specifically destroy cancer cells.  Additional information about Molecular Templates can be obtained at www.mtem.com.

About Vertex
Vertex is a global biotechnology company that invests in scientific innovation to create transformative medicines for people with serious diseases. The company has four approved medicines that treat the underlying cause of cystic fibrosis (CF) — a rare, life-threatening genetic disease — and has several ongoing clinical and research programs in CF. Beyond CF, Vertex has a robust pipeline of investigational medicines in other serious diseases where it has deep insight into causal human biology, such as sickle cell disease, beta thalassemia, pain, alpha-1 antitrypsin deficiency, Duchenne muscular dystrophy and APOL1-mediated kidney diseases.

Founded in 1989 in Cambridge, Mass., Vertex's global headquarters is now located in Boston's Innovation District and its international headquarters is in London, UK. Additionally, the company has research and development sites and commercial offices in North America, Europe, Australia and Latin America. Vertex is consistently recognized as one of the industry's top places to work, including 10 consecutive years on Science magazine's Top Employers list and top five on the 2019 Best Employers for Diversity list by Forbes. For company updates and to learn more about Vertex's history of innovation, visit www.vrtx.com or follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube and Instagram.

SOURCE: Vertex Pharmaceuticals

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