SANTA MONICA, Calif.—Kite Pharma Inc. has begun a worldwide research and license agreement with privately held Alpine Immune Sciences Inc. (AIS), a biotechnology company that targets the immune synapse, for the discovery and development of protein-based immunotherapies that target the immune synapse to treat cancer. The deal nets Kite an exclusive license to two programs from AIS' transmembrane immunomodulatory protein (TIP) technology, white Kite plans to engineer into chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) and T cell receptor (TCR) product candidates.
Per the terms of the deal, Kite will pay AIS $5 million up front, as well as additional payments to support AIS' research. AIS also stands to receive $530 million in milestone payments if certain pre-specified research, clinical and regulatory milestones are met, in addition to low single-digit royalty payments on product sales.
"The field of immuno-oncology has the potential to significantly improve the outcome of patients with cancer," commented Dr. Arie Belldegrun, chairman, president and CEO of Kite, in a press release. "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," added Dr. Mitchell H. Gold, AIS' 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."
The agreement comes just a week after Kite announced another deal including TCR candidates. On Oct. 20, the company announced 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, to name a few. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is conducting a pair of 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, with Dr. Steven A. Rosenberg, chief of surgery at the NCI and a special advisor to Kite, serving as principal investigator. The agreement stipulates that Kite will make an upfront payment to the NIH as well as clinical, regulatory and sales milestone payments and royalties on net sales.
"We are pleased to announce this license with NIH, which further expands our therapeutic pipeline programs to treat diverse solid tumors," Dr. Arie Belldegrun, president and CEO for Kite, remarked in a statement on the agreement. "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."