Gilead’s Bolt-On Purchase For CAR-T

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Following Gilead’s $12 billion acquisition of Kite earlier this year, for its immuno-oncology therapy, the biotech has its eyes on the prize with the bolt-on acquisition of Cell Design for the future of CAR-T. The purchase totaled $567 million and was made using biobucks and shares of Cell Design Labs that Kite had previously owned. It will go towards building the next-gen CAR-T programs to advance what was previously created by Kite.

Cell Design is primarily about the technology that is the core of synNotch, which requires two antigens rather than just one, to stimulate the CAR cells and dubbed “throttle technologies”, which uses a minute molecule as a switch for turning the CAR-T on and off. The biotech also has two discreet preclinical candidates in its pipeline. One candidate uses the technology for the treatment of prostate cancer and liver cancer and another premature candidate for multiple myeloma.

“We are positive on the demonstrated investment to CAR-T and believe this is a ‘long-term’ investment to build a cancer cell therapy platform over the next five years” according to analysts at Jefferies. The analysts believe that Gilead is developing program for long-term investment stating, “This is a relatively small, tuck-in acquisition to add technology to build on the Kite CAR-T platform. This is also not a huge surprise given Kite already had a collaboration with Cell Design from June 2016 based on Kite’s strategy to already build precision-controlled CAR products that can be turned ‘on or off’”.

The firm added that investors, “should expect (and we predict) that Gilead will look to integrate ‘gene-editing’ either through partnership or acquisition as a next likely piece needed as well, which could fine tune and control the T-cells from all angles” speaking about the collaboration between Cellectis and Sangamo Therapeutics in the same area of study.

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