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Stem cell transplant firms Kiadis and CytoSen join forces

Acquires an NK cell based platform with the deal

Kiadis

Dutch biotech Kiadis has agreed to acquire US counterpart CytoSen and pool their resources in the emerging field of cell-based cancer immunotherapy.

Kiadis has focused its energies to date on the development of T cell-based therapies that are intended to support patients undergoing haematopoietic stem cell transplants (HSCT) to treat diseases such as blood cancers.

Adding CytoSen gives it a second platform based on natural killer (NK) cells, another class of white blood cell that functions as part of the innate immune system – the first line of defence for the body – and has shown promise as a therapy for various forms of cancer.

The takeover is in the form of a stock transfer, with CytoSen shareholders receiving around 1.94 million shares in Kiadis (a 7% stake) if the deal goes through, with another 5.82 million on offer if six development and regulatory milestones are met. Kiadis shares were trading at around €10.25 on the Amsterdam stock exchange this morning, up around 3%.

Assuming Kiadis’ shareholders give their blessing to the deal – and institutional investors holding 31.5% of the stock have already done so – the combined company will have two clinical-stage programmes that are given alongside HSCT to improve the outlook for patients.

Kiadis’ lead program is ATIR101, a T-cell therapy intended to help support the body’s immune system after HSCT that is heading an approval decision by the EMA in the first half of this year and is in a phase 3 trial for other markets due to read out in 2021.

The therapy gets rid of T cells from the HSCT donor that could lead to graft-versus-host disease (GVHD), a life-threatening reaction which occurs when the donated bone marrow cells mount an immune response against the recipient’s tissues. At the same time, ATIR101 contains cancer killing T-cells from the donor that could eliminate residual cancer cells and help prevent relapse.

That is now joined by CytoSen's lead programme CSTD002-NK, currently in a proof-of-concept trial involving 25 patients – in patients undergoing HSCT for acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) or myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS).

The NK cell therapy is designed to destroy any remaining malignant cells and reduce the chances that patients relapse. According to CytoSen, the cells act like border patrol agents, targeting potentially dangerous cells without knowing their specific identity and without causing damage to normal tissue.

“With the addition of CytoSen, we can create cell therapy treatments that combine the innate and adaptive arms of the immune system,” said Kiadis chief executive Arthur Lahr.

The ATIR T-cell and CSDT002-NK-cell programs each have the potential to make transplants safer and more effective [and] in combination, they have the potential to revolutionize HSCT, making it suitable for an even wider group of patients.”

Kiadis had around $68m in cash at the end of 2018, and that will be swelled by CytoSen’s approximately $6m reserves if the transaction goes through as expected. If not, the US company will receive a $1m break-up fee.

Article by
Phil Taylor

17th April 2019

From: Sales

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