Kite, a Gilead Company, has signed a global license agreement with Refuge Biotechnologies, a synthetic biology company for cancer immunotherapy, for exclusive rights to use latter’s gene expression platform to develop potential treatments for blood cancers.
The platform of Refuge is a synthetic biology system leveraging an expression modulation strategy to repress or activate transcription of target genes.
Early pre-clinical data indicate a potential for this modular platform to regulate target antigen-dependent gene expression to boost efficacy and safety of first-generation CAR T-cell therapies.
Kite will secure an exclusive license to Refuge’s intellectual property portfolio for use in blood cancer treatment, in addition to a library of synthetic gene expression programmes for these indications.
Refuge will retain all rights and programmes associated with solid tumour indications.
Kite global head of cell therapy research Francesco Marincola said: “First-generation autologous CAR T-cell therapies have dramatically changed outcomes for people with certain blood cancers yet more work needs to be done to reach additional patients. As the global CAR T-cell therapy leader, Kite is working on the next generation of cell therapies with the goal to improve upon the great results we have today so more patients can benefit.
“Through this exclusive license agreement with Refuge’s platform, coupled with our unique in-house research capabilities, we aim to create a new generation of CAR T-cell products to induce long-term remissions for more patients.”
Refuge chief business officer Jing Zhao said: “As a leader in the advancement of cell therapy from research to life-changing therapeutics, Kite is an ideal partner for Refuge as we seek to further evaluate the promise of Refuge’s proprietary platform.
“We look forward to collaborating closely with Kite in this area, while continuing to advance our internal therapeutic research and programs focused on solid tumours.”
As per the terms of the agreement, Kite will bear all costs and activities associated with research, development, manufacturing and commercialisation.
Kite will also make an upfront payment to Refuge, which will be eligible to get potential payments related to performance-based regulatory milestones.