CAR-T race heats up with flurry of new deals

By Zachary Brennan

- Last updated on GMT

Renewed interest in CAR-T therapies makes the market a hot one.
Renewed interest in CAR-T therapies makes the market a hot one.

Related tags Bone marrow

The hype around developing new CAR-T (Chimeric Antigen Receptor transduced T) cell therapies, which can fight cancers by modifying patients’ immune cells, seemed to hit a new high this week, with two partnerships and an acquisition.

Amgen kicked off the week with a research partnership with Kite Pharma. Under the terms of the agreement, Amgen will contribute cancer targets, while Kite will contribute its proprietary CAR platform, R&D and manufacturing capabilities.

Kite, which raised about $130m with its IPO in June, will be responsible for conducting all preclinical research, and cell manufacturing and processing through Investigational New Drug (IND) filing.

With an upfront payment of $60m from Amgen, as well as funding for R&D costs through an IND filing, Kite will be eligible to receive up to $525m in milestone payments per Amgen program based on the successful completion of certain milestones, plus tiered high single- to double-digit royalties for sales and the license of Kite's intellectual property for CAR-T cell products. Amgen is eligible to receive up to $525m in milestone payments per Kite program, plus tiered single-digit sales royalties. 

Novartis and Intellia

Novartis, which has worked with the University of Pennsylvania to develop its own promising CAR-T therapy, on Wednesday, announced a partnership with Intellia, which gives Novartis exclusive rights to develop programmes focused on CAR-Ts.

Research and development activities will focus on using CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) ex vivo for engineering CAR-Ts and hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs).

Cardio3 Acquisition

Belgian stem cell developer Cardio3 BioSciences also joined the group racing to develop CAR-T therapies by acquiring OnCyte, the oncology division of ​Celdara Medical, for an upfront payment of $10m.

For the successful development of Oncyte’s most advanced product, CM-CS1, Celdara could receive up to $50m in milestones until market approval. Celdara will also be eligible to additional payments for other product milestones totalling up to $21m per product. In addition, Celdara will receive up to $80m in sales milestones if any products reach blockbuster status, while royalties range from 5% to 8%.

OnCyte has three CAR T-cell therapy products in development and an allogeneic T-cell platform targeting a range of cancer indications. 

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