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BioNTech plans acquisition of Kite’s TCR cell therapy R&D platform

German biotech company said the acquisition will boost its presence in the US

BioNTech is looking to extend its presence in the cell therapy space, announcing a planned acquisition of Gilead company Kite’s solid tumour neoantigen T cell receptor (TCR) R&D platform and clinical manufacturing facility in the US.

The facility, based in Gaithersburg, MD in the US, will boost production capacity to support clinical trials and complement BioNTech’s existing cell therapy manufacturing facility in Germany.

Specifically, the facility will be used to support development of BioNTech’s pipeline of novel cell therapies, which includes cancer product candidates based on the company’s CAR-T cell amplifying mRNA vaccine (CARVac) and recently acquired NEOSTIM platforms.

As part of the acquisition agreement, Kite is set to receive a one-time upfront payment – the amount of which has not been disclosed – for the TCR discovery platform and the R&D and clinical manufacturing facility.

Following the acquisition, BioNTech will also extend its cell therapy pipeline using the TCR platform from Kite.

TCR therapy is a type of cellular immunotherapy designed to redirect the patient’s immune system, in a bid to recognise and target tumours.

This differs from CARs, which recognise antigens on the cell surface – in contrast, TCR therapy involves engineering an individual’s T cells to express TCRs that can recognise peptide fragments from antigens located both within and outside cells.

“The development of individualised cancer therapies is at the core of our work at BioNTech. The acquisition of the Kite facility and its individualised TCR platform allows us to accelerate the clinical development of our cell therapies in the US and advance at the forefront of individualised cell therapies,” said Ugur Sahin, chief executive officer and co-founder of BioNTech.

“It also strengthens our presence in the US, building on our successful integration of adoptive T-cell and neoantigen TCR therapies as part of our acquisition of Neon Therapeutics last year,” he added.

Kite has already seen success with its own CAR T treatments, which includes Tecartus (brexucabtagene autoleucel) and Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel).

Tecartus is used to treat adults with mantle cell lymphoma, and is indicated for patients whose cancer has returned after two or more previous treatments, including a BTK inhibitor.

Meanwhile, Yescarta is used to treat follicular lymphoma and is also approved in the US for the treatment of relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphoma after tow or more lunes of systemic therapy.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

20th July 2021

From: Research, Sales

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