Sector News

Kite and bluebird join forces with some cutting-edge cancer tech

June 22, 2015
Life sciences
Immuno-oncology innovator Kite Pharma is joining gene therapy luminary bluebird bio to craft new treatments for HPV-related cancers, combining two high-profile technologies in hopes of developing targeted therapies.
 
Under the deal, Kite will bring its expertise in T cell receptor, or TCR, treatments, which rely on rewiring the body’s immune cells to home in on cancers. And bluebird will provide its know-how in using harmless viruses to deliver corrective genes and its experience in gene editing. Combined, the partners hope to produce second-generation TCRs that use bluebird’s genetic engineering platform to better attack their target cancers, particularly those related to a particular strain of HPV, or human papillomavirus.
 
The companies aren’t disclosing financial details of the deal, saying only that they will share all R&D and commercial costs and split profits 50-50. Kite will lead the effort in the U.S., while bluebird will have the option to run things in Europe, and each company is eligible for co-promotion rights in the other’s territory.
 
Kite is largely known for its work on CAR-T therapies, a cousin technology to TCR that has shown excellent early promise against blood cancers. In CAR-T, the California biotech is in a race with Novartis and Juno Therapeutics, planning to enter pivotal trials this year with its leading contender.
 
But less often discussed is Kite’s TCR pipeline, which features 5 National Cancer Institute-partnered therapies in the early stages of development, and the company is pursuing both paths in tandem with the goal of churning out therapies for tumors liquid and solid.
 
As for bluebird, the biotech has made headlines around the world with its lead gene therapy, which has shown the potential to cure a rare blood disease. But the Cambridge, MA, company has long been working in CAR-T, as well, lending its technology to Celgene ($CELG) over the past few years in a wide-ranging blood cancer collaboration. Earlier this month, Celgene scaled back that partnership to cover just a single target, with bluebird regaining the rights to a handful of programs and maintaining some in-house CAR-T candidates.
 
Now, pairing off with Kite, bluebird is reaching into the world of TCR in an effort to “deliver game-changing T cell therapies to patients through great science and great capabilities,” CEO Nick Leschly said in a statement.
 
By Damian Garde
 

comments closed

Related News

January 29, 2023

Colorcon, Inc. signs Put agreement with intent to acquire controlled atmosphere packaging specialist Airnov Healthcare Packaging

Life sciences

Airnov provides critical healthcare industries with high-quality, controlled atmosphere packaging, to protect their products from moisture and oxygen. The business has manufacturing facilities in the USA, France, China and India and employs around 700 people.

January 29, 2023

Takeda pledges up to $1.13B for rights to Hutchmed’s cancer drug fruquintinib outside of China

Life sciences

Takeda of Japan has partnered with Hong Kong-based Hutchmed, gaining the commercial rights to colorectal cancer drug fruquintinib outside of China for $400 million up front, plus $730 million in potential milestone payments. Takeda also will help develop fruquintinib, which can be applied to subtypes of refractory metastatic colorectal cancer, regardless of biomarker status, the companies said.

January 29, 2023

Vir taps Bayer dealmaker Marianne De Backer as its next CEO

Life sciences

On April 3, Scangos, who’s been chief executive officer at Vir since the start of 2017, will hand over the reins to Marianne De Backer, Ph.D. De Backer comes over from Bayer, where she currently heads up pharmaceutical strategy, business development and licensing. Alongside her CEO appointment, De Backer is set to join Vir’s board of directors, the company said Wednesday.

How can we help you?

We're easy to reach