Gilead’s Kite Pharma, Sangamo in Gene-Editing Pact Worth up to $3.16 Billion

Kite Pharma, Gilead Sciences’ cell-therapy subsidiary, and Sangamo Therapeutics, a Richmond, California-based biotechnology company, have partnered to use Sangamo’s zinc finger nuclease (ZFN) technology platform for developing ex vivo cell therapies in oncology in a deal worth up to $3.16 billion.

Kite will use Sangamo’s ZFN technology to modify genes to develop cell therapies for autologous and allogeneic use in treating different cancers. Kite says allogeneic cell therapies from healthy donor cells or from renewable stem cells would provide a potential treatment option that can be accessed directly within an oncology infusion center, thus reducing the time to infusion for patients. Under the agreement, the companies will work together on a research program under which Sangamo will design ZFNs and adeno-associated viruses to disrupt and insert certain genes in T cells and natural killer (NK) cells, including the insertion of genes that encode chimeric antigen receptors (CARs), T-cell receptors, and NK-cell receptors directed to mutually agreed candidate targets.

Under Kite and Sangamo’s agreement, Sangamo will receive an upfront payment of $150 million and is eligible to receive up to $3.01 billion in potential payments, aggregated across 10 or more products using Sangamo’s technology, based on the achievement of certain research, development, regulatory, and successful commercialization milestones. Sangamo would also receive tiered royalties on sales of potential future products resulting from the collaboration. Kite will be responsible for all development, manufacturing, and commercialization of products under the collaboration and will be responsible for agreed upon expenses incurred by Sangamo. The transaction is subject to clearance under the Hart-Scott Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act and other customary closing conditions.

Kite is engaged in the emerging field of cell therapy, which uses a patient’s own immune cells to fight cancer. In October 2017, Gilead Sciences completed its $11.9-billion acquisition of Kite. In October 2017, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Kite’s Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel), a chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T) therapy, for treating adult patients with certain types of large B-cell lymphoma. Yescarta was the second CART-T therapy approved by the FDA and is slated by some analysts for blockbuster status. In August 2017, the FDA approved Novartis’ Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel) as the first CAR-T therapy in the US; it was approved for treating a form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Source: Gilead Sciences

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