Kite Pharma and Alpine Immune Sciences seek new heights of oncology research

Companies enter into research collaboration and license agreement to enhance immune response in the tumor microenvironment

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SANTA MONICA, Calif. and SEATTLE—With a potential deal value of more than a half-billion dollars, Kite Pharma Inc. announced Oct. 27 that it had entered into a worldwide research and license agreement with privately-held biotech Alpine Immune Sciences Inc. (AIS) to discover and develop protein-based immunotherapies to treat cancer.
Under the terms of the deal, AIS will grant Kite an exclusive license to two programs from its transmembrane immunomodulatory protein (TIP) technology, which Kite plans to further engineer into chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) and T cell receptor (TCR) product candidates. Kite will pay AIS $5 million up front and make additional payments to support AIS’ research. AIS will be eligible to receive milestone payments based upon the successful achievement of pre-specified research, clinical, and regulatory milestones totaling $530 million plus low single-digit royalty payments on product sales.
This collaboration is expected to accelerate Kite’s efforts to establish the next generation of engineered T cell therapies specifically designed to overcome the inhibitory mechanisms present in the tumor microenvironment.
“The field of immuno-oncology has the potential to significantly improve the outcome of patients with cancer,” said Dr. Arie Belldegrun chairman, president and CEO of Kite. “We believe the ability of AIS’ TIP technology to modulate the immune synapse can be incorporated into engineered T cell therapies to advance CAR and TCR product candidates into multiple tumor types. This collaboration is another example of Kite’s continuing commitment to advancing our pipeline through transformative technologies grounded in innovative science.”
“AIS was established with a team of experienced scientists to capitalize on our keen understanding of immunology and protein engineering,” said Dr. Mitchell H. Gold, the company’s executive chairman. “At AIS, we have a robust discovery platform to identify molecules capable of directly modulating the immune synapse. We look forward to working with Kite, a company that uniquely understands the complexities surrounding cancer biology.”
In other recent news from Kite, the clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company announced a week earlier that it had entered into an exclusive, worldwide license with the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for intellectual property related to TCR-based product candidates directed against MAGE A3 and A3/A6 antigens for the treatment of tumors expressing MAGE, which include lung, pancreatic, gastric and breast cancers, among others.
The NIH’s National Cancer Institute (NCI)—with Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg, chief of surgery at the NCI and a special advisor to Kite, as principal investigator—is currently conducting two Phase 1-2a clinical trials of TCR-based product candidates targeting the MAGE antigens under a cooperative research and development agreement between Kite and the NCI. Pursuant to the terms of the license agreement, NIH will receive from Kite an upfront payment and certain clinical, regulatory, and sales milestone payments, as well as royalties on net sales of products covered by the license.
“We are pleased to announce this license with NIH, which further expands our therapeutic pipeline programs to treat diverse solid tumors,” Belldegrun stated. “We believe that our broad portfolio of TCR product candidates, including those targeting MAGE antigens, holds great promise in addressing the significant unmet needs of patients.”

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