Kite Pharma Forms CAR-T Research Pact

Kite Pharma, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company, and Cell Design Labs, a biotherapeutics company, have formed a research collaboration and license agreement to develop chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) product candidates that incorporate Cell Design Labs’ molecular “on/off switch” technology.

The use of CARs to redirect T-cells against B-cell malignancies has shown promise for treating cancer. The switch technology employs small molecule-mediated protein dimerization domains to functionally activate the CAR and, similarly, to turn “off” the CAR in the absence of the small molecule. By incorporating “on/off switches” into CAR products, physicians will have the potential to control and reversibly titrate the activity of CAR T-cells.

Under the agreement, Cell Design Labs will develop “on/off switches” for Kite’s CAR T-cell pipeline. Kite will receive exclusive worldwide rights to develop and commercialize CAR T-cell therapies containing Cell Design Labs’ “on/off switches” directed to certain targets for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia. Kite also has the exclusive option to develop and commercialize CAR T-cell products containing “on/off switches” directed to certain targets for the treatment of B-cell malignancies.

Under the agreement, Kite will pay Cell Design Labs an upfront payment and additional payments to support Cell Design Labs’ research. Cell Design Labs will be eligible to receive milestone payments based upon the successful achievement of pre-specified research, clinical, regulatory, and commercial milestones, as well as tiered royalties on product sales. Kite has increased its equity investment in Cell Design Labs as part of Cell Design Labs’ recent private financings. Arie Belldegrun will join the Board of Directors of Cell Design Labs and David Chang, MD, PhD., executive vice president, research & development, and chief medical officer of Kite, will join as a Board Observer.

Earlier this year, Kite partnered with Roche’s Genentech to study KTE-C19, the company’s lead product candidate, in combination with Roche’s checkpoint inhibitor, atezolizumab. Kite expects to initiate a Phase Ib/II combination study in patients with chemorefractory diffuse large B cell lymphoma in the second half of 2016.

Source: Kite Pharma

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