In Kite’s case, the strategy is gene therapy. In Sagamo’s case, it’s gene editing. Kite’s approach involves modifying immune T-cells. Sagamo uses an editing technique called zinc finger nuclease technology.
The cancer-fighting technique that Kite is recognized for involves removing a patient’s immune cells, modifying them to go after specific targets, then returning them to the patient to attack cancer. The approach involves editing T-cell genetic material, either to help the immune cells recognize certain tumor cells or to improve their ability to hone in on a target.
Kite plans to use Sagamo’s zinc finger nuclease technology to do the gene modification it needs for its T-cell therapy.
Sagamo’s technology centers on proteins called zinc finger DNA-binding proteins. It modifies the proteins to bind to specific DNA sequences.
While this kind of immunotherapy can treat only one kind of cancer, the partners hope to develop specific treatments for several types.
The therapies modify either a patient’s own cells or cells that others donate.
The companies hope the donated therapies can be administered in cancer infusion centers, making treatment more accessible.
“This collaboration between Kite and Sangamo brings together two leading platforms to develop best-in-class cell therapies in oncology [cancer treatment],” Sandy Macrae, the president and chief executive officer of Sangamo, said in a press release. “We are excited by Kite’s commitment to driving innovation in this field and look forward to working together to realize the full promise of cell therapy in treating cancer.”
“The emergence of gene editing as a tool to edit immune cells holds promise in the development of therapies with potentially improved safety, efficacy and efficiency,” said John F. Milligan, Gilead’s president and chief executive officer. “We believe Sangamo’s zinc finger nucleases provide the optimal gene editing platform.”
And “we look forward to working with Sangamo to accelerate our efforts to develop next-generation autologous [patient-derived] cell therapies, as well as allogeneic treatments [those coming from donors] that can be accessed more conveniently in the hospital setting for people living with cancer,” Milligan said.