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Allogene raises $324m from record-breaking IPO for off-the shelf CAR-Ts

Shares priced at the top of an indicative range

Allogene

Allogene has launched itself onto the public markets with a record breaking $324m launch on Nasdaq.

The San Francisco based biotech was only founded last year, but has secured lots of funding, thanks mainly to the pedigree of its leaders.

The new biotech's executive chairman Arie Belldegrun and CEO David Cheng brought cell therapy specialist Kite Pharma from a start-up to an almost $12bn buyout, and investors are confident they can work their magic for a second time.

That's why the IPO is a record-breaker, surpassing the $315m raised by Axovant three years ago (though optimism in its Alzheimer's lead candidate turned out to be misplaced).

Kite was sold on to Gilead Sciences, along with FDA-approved CAR-T therapy Yescarta, one of the first two of the groundbreaking cell therapies to reach the market, just behind Novartis' Kymriah.

David Chang

Arie Belldegrun (left) and David Cheng 

Belldegrun and Cheng they can go one better than these first generation autologous CAR-Ts. These therapy rely on a painstaking process of extracting white blood cells from the patient, genetically modifying these cells and them arming them to identify and kill cancerous cells.

Despite their great clinical results, the therapies incur large costs due to its complicated production process.

Allogene is among a number of companies who want to leapfrog the leaders with allogenic or 'off the shelf' CAR-Ts. The company has a portfolio of 16 pre-clinical CAR T cell therapy targets, which it calls AlloCARs.

Isolated at a manufacturing facility, these cells are also engineered to allow CARs to recognise and destroy cancer cells, but are further modified using gene editing to limit an autoimmune response, which might arise when administered to a patient other than the donor.

The therapies are then stored off-the-shelf delivery to patients, and Allogene believes just one manufacturing run has the potential to create therapies for approximately 100 patients.

Allogene believes its platform will overcome problems seen in other off-the-shelf CAR-T pipelines, and will have the ability to scale production to further reduce cost.

It already has one AlloCAR candidate (UCART19) in phase 1 development for the treatment of relapsed/refractory acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), and results from the trial could be revealed as early as next year.

If all goes well for UCART19, it could not only rival Novartis' CAR-T therapy for ALL but have an edge over it as Kymriah, which has hit a bottleneck in its manufacturing processes.

“While there is important work underway across the industry for next-generation autologous cell therapy, Allogene hopes to bring about the next revolution in the field with the successful development of allogeneic cell therapy and the potential for greater and faster patient access,” said Belldegrun.

“Under the direction of David Chang, an extraordinary scientist, physician and life sciences business executive with over 30 years of unprecedented experience in developing cancer treatments, Allogene is poised to potentially lead the development of one of the most exciting opportunities in our industry today.”

Pfizer also has a 25% stake in the company, allowing Allogene access to a portfolio of treatment options, including gene editing technology.

Article by
Gemma Jones

11th October 2018

From: Sales

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