Kite Forms Immuno-Oncology Joint Venture

Kite Pharma, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Santa Monica, California, and Shanghai Fosun Pharmaceutical (Group), a healthcare group in China, have formed a joint venture in China, Fosun Pharma Kite Biotechnology, to develop, manufacture, and commercialize axicabtagene ciloleucel (formerly KTE-C19), Kite’s lead investigational chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR T) therapy under development for treating B-cell lymphomas and leukemias.

The joint venture will be registered in Shanghai and owned equally between Kite and Fosun Pharma. Under the agreement, Fosun Pharma will provide the renminbi (RMB – Chinese currency) equivalent of $20 million in funding to support clinical development and manufacturing activities, and Kite will provide certain technical transfer services to the joint venture. Each party will share in any profits from the joint venture with Kite receiving 40% and Fosun Pharma receiving 60%. Kite will also receive an upfront fee of $40 million from the joint venture, funded by Fosun Pharma, regulatory, and commercial milestones totaling $35 million, and mid-single digit sales royalties for axicabtagene ciloleucel.

The joint venture will initially focus on axicabtagene ciloleucel, Kite’s lead CAR T product candidate for the treatment of B-cell lymphomas and leukemias. The joint venture will also have the option to license additional product candidates from Kite, including KITE-439, a T cell receptor (TCR) therapy directed against the human papillomavirus type 16 E7 oncoprotein, and KITE-718, a TCR therapy directed against melanoma associated antigen 3 (MAGE A3) and MAGE A6, antigens frequently found in solid tumors. Opt-in and milestone payments for KITE-439 and KITE-718 could total $140 million plus profit sharing and mid-single digit sales royalties.

Kite’s lead product candidate, axicabtagene ciloleucel, is an investigational therapy in which a patient’s T cells are engineered to express a CAR to target the antigen CD19, a protein expressed on the cell surface of B-cell lymphomas and leukemias, and redirected to the cancer cells. Kite announced in December 2016 that it had initiated the rolling submission to the US Food and Drug Administration of the biologics license application for axicabtagene ciloleucel for treating patients with refractory aggressive B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Source: Kite Pharma 

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