Kite and AIS to Collaborate on Cancer Immunotherapies

Kite and AIS to Collaborate on Cancer Immunotherapies

Kite Pharma, Inc. and Alpine Immune Sciences, Inc. have signed a worldwide research and license agreement focused on immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer. Kite Pharma, a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company engaged in the development of novel cancer immunotherapy products, announced that it had entered the collaboration with the privately-held biotechnology company Alpine Immune Sciences. Importantly, these new partners will work on the discovery and development of protein-based immunotherapies.

According to the agreement, Alpine Immune Sciences will grant Kite an exclusive license on two programs. Kite will study Alpine’s transmembrane immunomodulatory protein (TIP) technology and is expected to further engineer it into chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) and T cell receptor (TCR) product candidates. The companies believe that the collaborative work will help advance Kite’s goal to create a next generation of engineered T cell therapies that can overcome several inhibitory mechanisms present in the tumor microenvironment.

“The field of immuno-oncology has the potential to significantly improve the outcome of patients with cancer. 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,” chairman, president and CEO of Kite, Arie Belldegrun, MD, FACS, explained in a press release. AIS’ TIP technology is a transmembrane immunomodulatory protein technology, based on a proprietary variant immunoglobulin domain (vIgD) platform designed by AIS to either enhance or diminish an immune response.

The company plans to develop protein-based immunotherapies that can take advantage of the patient’s immune system to treat not only cancer, but also other autoimmune conditions. Its vIgD platform is an original discovery that interacts with multiple immune synapse’s targets, on contrary to other therapeutic approaches currently available that address only one target. Based on this innovative technology, the company developed the TIP technology for direct applications with engineered T cell therapies, possibly improving efficacy and persistence. “AIS was established with a team of experienced scientists to capitalize on our keen understanding of immunology and protein engineering,” continued the executive chairman, Mitchell H. Gold, MD. “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 terms of the agreement determine that Kite will grant AIS a $5 million upfront payment, as well as additional payments meant to support the research. AIS will become eligible for milestone payments, totaling up to $530 million, which will be attributed according to the company’s success in achieving pre-specified research, clinical, and regulatory milestones. Kite may also be granted low single-digit royalty payments on product sales, alongside the exclusive, worldwide license to research, develop and commercialize engineered autologous T cell therapies incorporating two programs coming from the AIS platform.

“This collaboration is another example of Kite’s continuing commitment to advancing our pipeline through transformative technologies grounded in innovative science,” added Belldegrun.