Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Biotech struck a licensing agreement with Cellular Biomedicine Group (CBMG) Tuesday to develop its next-generation CAR-T therapies for B-cell malignancies.

The agreement will give Janssen access to CBMG’s lead candidate, a novel bispecific CAR-T therapy that targets the CD20 and CD19 antigens in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma. Known as C-CAR039, the therapy is currently undergoing a Phase 1b study in the U.S.

Under the agreement, Janssen will have a worldwide license to develop and commercialize CBMG’s CAR-T assets outside of China. In addition to C-CAR039, Janssen will also pick up C-CAR066, which targets CD20.

The deal, which involves Janssen providing $245 million upfront, boosts its B-cell malignancies portfolio in the process.

“We are committed to advancing the science and treatment of B-cell malignancies, especially in diffuse large B-cell lymphoma where deeper responses and long-term remissions represent a persistent unmet need,” Sen Zhuang, VP of clinical research and development at Janssen Research & Development, said in a statement.

Zhuang added that a tenet to Janssen’s continued innovation strategy is focusing on accelerating the development of cell therapies “profoundly transform” patient outcomes and progress potentially curative regimens.

The story of C-CAR039 goes back to January 2022, when the Food and Drug Administration granted the treatment a Regenerative Medicine Advanced Therapy (RMAT) Designation. The agency also granted it with a Fast Track Designation for patients with relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma.

The FDA based its decision off C-CAR039’s potential “to increase objective and complete response rates” in the disease, CBMG chairman and CEO Tony Liu said in a statement at the time.

Yusri Elsayed, VP and disease area leader of hematologic malignancies at Janssen Research & Development, pointed to the assets as “clinically validated CD20 CAR constructs,” and noted “we look forward to harnessing our expertise, capabilities and scale to lead the global development of these innovative CAR-T products.”

The licensing agreement with CBMG comes several months after Janssen terminated its research collaboration and option agreement with Morphic Therapeutic.