Welcome to your Cell Therapy Deal Review for the month of October. Lion Biotechnologies and Kite Pharma both made deals with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that significantly expanded their respective pipelines. Kite also announced a research collaboration with Alpine Immune Sciences to enhance its CAR T portfolio with a novel transmembrane protein platform. Aduro received its first payment from Janssen under the terms of its licensing deal in lung cancer.
Immunotherapies come in one of three forms: CAR, TCR, and TIL, and the leader in the latter is without a doubt Lion Biotechnologies (LION). The company first acquired access to tumour-infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs) for metastatic melanoma, and has now bolstered its portfolio of indications to include bladder, lung, breast and HPV-associated cancers following an amendment to its original exclusive, worldwide licensing deal with the NIH. Lion is currently at the phase 2 stage in both refractory metastatic melanoma and 2nd line metastatic melanoma with autologous TILs. The company is also investigating TILs in combination with other cancer drugs to explore synergistic activity.
Kite Pharma (KITE) also expanded its pipeline, via the NIH, and gained exclusive, worldwide rights to T-cell receptor (TCR) products that target Melanoma-associated antigens (MAGE), specifically A3 and A3/A6. The MAGE are up-regulated in a number of cancer types, including lung, pancreatic, gastric, and breast. Dr. Steven Rosenberg, at the National Cancer Institute (NCI), is currently the principal investigator for two phase 1/2a studies investigating TCR products targeted to MAGE as part of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) between Kite and the NCI.
Kite also announced a worldwide research collaboration and licensing deal with privately-held, Seattle-based Alpine Immune Sciences, which is engaged in the development of therapeutics that target the “immune synapse,” or point of contact, between immune cells. As part of its deal with Alpine, Kite will receive an exclusive license to two programs from its transmembrane immunomodulatory protein (TIPTM) technology. TIPs are designed to enhance cell-based immunotherapy products to improve specificity, persistence and cytotoxicity. Kite will no doubt leverage the technology to build-out second and third generation chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) and TCR products. Kite made an upfront payment of US$5 million and will provide Alpine up to US$530 million in additional milestone payments, and a low-single digit royalty on sales for any commercial immunotherapy products that result from the collaboration.
In May 2014, Aduro Biotech (ADRO) and Janssen formed a collaboration that gave Janssen exclusive, worldwide rights to products for the treatment of prostate cancer derived from Aduro’s LADD immunotherapy platform. This agreement was expanded in October 2014 to include lung cancer. Aduro announced that it has received its first milestone payment in association with the collaboration for filing an investigational new drug application to the FDA for ADU-214, a LADD-based therapy for non-small cell lung cancer. The value of the payment was not disclosed. As part of the October 2014 deal, Aduro received US$30 million upfront with the potential to receive up to an additional US$786.5 million in milestone payments, and a health royalty ranging from high single-digit to low teens on global sales.
Janssen is a Johnson & Johnson (J&J) company that recently came to Toronto, Canada to start JLABS, an incubator that will launch in the spring of 2016 and provide lab and office space to emerging biotechnology and health care companies. Instead of choosing to develop therapeutics broadly in oncology, J&J has a very specific focus on lung and prostate cancer, and hematological malignancies. This ensures the company does not stray outside of its core expertise. JLABS Toronto recently announced a call for the Quick Fire Challenge, which will provide three, very lucky, companies with a year in JLABS free of charge! If your technology fits into one of J&J’s buckets, be sure to throw your hat in the ring.