SANTA MONICA, Calif.—Kite Pharma Inc., a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing engineered autologous T cell therapy (eACT) products for the treatment of cancer, today announced that the company has expanded its agreement with Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center in Israel to research and develop novel approaches to chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapy, the technology underlying Kite's most advanced programs in cancer immunotherapy. Under the agreement, Kite will collaborate with Dr. Zelig Eshhar, a leading pioneer in CAR T cell research and chair of immunology research within the Tel Aviv SouraskyMedical Center's Division of Research and Development.
“Zelig's award-winning research has been at the center of CAR T cell programs currently advancing in clinical studies. We are pleased to have an expanded agreement with Zelig and the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center. We believe this collaboration will facilitate continued development and advancement of novel, efficacious and more selective CAR T cell products for various tumor types,” said Dr. Arie Belldegrun, Kite Pharma's president and CEO.
Eshhar himself stated, “I have dedicated my career to the advancement of this transformative area of medicine, and I am excited about the opportunities before us.”
“Originally,” Eshhar continued, “my research had addressed the question of whether T cells can be programmed to effectively recognize and eliminate cancerous cells and to solve the central problem of how and why cancer cells escape the immune system. Now, we believe that we can further enhance this platform technology to develop a whole new generation of CAR T cell products for many tumor types. I look forward to the progress of this program.”
Eshhar recently was named one of the recipients of the prestigious Massry Prize, along with Kite collaborator Dr. Steven Rosenberg, chief of Surgery Branch at the U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI), not only for his pioneering efforts in immunotherapy, but also for his adoptive T cell approaches to cancer treatment.
In partnership with the NCI Surgery Branch through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement, Kite is advancing a pipeline of proprietary eACT peripheral blood product candidates, both CAR and TCR (T cell receptor) products, directed to a wide range of cancer indications