Takeda aims to accelerate the discovery of cancer immunotherapies through strategic collaborations with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) and Noile-Immune Biotech (Noile). Additionally, the pharmaceutical company will exercise an option to begin a licensing agreement with Crescendo Biologics.
In a statement, Stefan Wildt, head of pharmaceutical sciences at Takeda, said, “There’s an incredible opportunity to combine promising external innovation with the power of a fit-for-purpose translational cell therapy engine to accelerate the development of truly novel cell therapies.”
External collaborations, internal engine
External partner collaborations will aim to bolster the company’s new internal translational cell therapy engine. Takeda plans to leverage the cell therapy engine into a pipeline, translating the cell therapy concepts into the clinical research field.
A spokesperson for the company told us, “The newly created cell therapy engine will help advance our research and cell therapy science more quickly. Working in collaboration with our partners, the fit-for-purpose engine allows us to bring the proper bioengineering, clinical and translational expertise to our partners and help accelerate research into the clinic.”
Takeda’s collaboration with MSK will include discovery and development of chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) products for multiple myeloma, myeloid leukemia, and solid tumor indications. This alliance will be co-led by Michel Sadelin, the director of the center for cell engineering at MSK and scientific founder of Juno Therapeutics.
After Takeda exercised an option with Noile under an existing research collaboration, the company has now licensed CAR-T candidates, NIB-102 and NIB-103, for the treatment of solid tumor indications.
Noile and Takeda will co-develop these therapies while utilizing Noile’s proprietary CAR-T platform, ‘Prime’. Through the partnership, the companies will aim to gain regulatory approval for first-in-human trials of the two treatments by the end of 2019.
Takeda also exercised an option with Crescendo Biologics for an exclusive oncology-targeted license for the development of CAR-T therapeutics.
The spokesperson further explained that these collaborations extend from the company’s goals: “Takeda is investing in cell therapies because of its curative potential that can help us in our aspiration to cure cancer. We’re focused on advancing transformative innovation that can make the greatest difference for patients, and we believe cell therapies will be an important part of our work in immuno-oncology.”