Amgen and Kite Pharma to develop CAR T cell immunotherapies

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US-based Amgen has signed a strategic research collaboration and license agreement with Kite Pharma to develop and commercialise chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell immunotherapies.

The immunotherapies will be developed based on Kite’s engineered autologous cell therapy (eACT) platform and Amgen’s array of cancer targets.

Amgen will provide its cancer targets, while Kite will support with its CAR platform, R&D, manufacturing capabilities and expertise.

According to Amgen, CAR T cells are designed to traffic directly to tumour sites and become activated upon engagement with the target tumour antigen, selectively eradicating the tumor cells.

Amgen research and development executive vice-president Sean Harper said: “The intersection of immunology and oncology represents one of the most promising approaches to delivering significant impact for patients with cancer.”

“The immunotherapies will be developed based on Kite’s engineered autologous cell therapy (eACT) platform and Amgen’s array of cancer targets.”

Kite will take responsibility for carrying out all preclinical research, cell manufacturing and processing through Investigational New Drug (IND) filing. Each firm will be responsible for clinical development and commercialisation of their respective CAR therapeutic candidates, including all related expenses.

Under the deal, Kite will secure an upfront payment of $60m from Amgen, as well as funding for R&D costs through IND filing.

The company is also eligible to receive up to $525m in milestone payments under the Amgen programme based on the successful completion of regulatory and commercialisation milestones, as well as single to double-digit royalties for sales and the license of its intellectual property for CAR T cell products.

The deal will allow Amgen to receive $525m in milestone payments under the Kite programme and single-digit sales royalties.

Kite Pharma president Arie Belldegrun said: “Amgen is an ideal partner for us, based on their strong presence in oncology and the company’s broad array of cancer targets optimally suited for combining with our CAR technologies.”