$KITE and BLUE Analyst Blog

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Kite Pharma and Bluebird Tie Up for HPV Cancer Targets – Analyst Blog

Kite Pharma, Inc. KITE has signed up with bluebird bio, Inc. BLUE for the development and commercialization of second generation T cell receptor (TCR) candidates directed against the human papillomavirus type 16 E6 (HPV-16 E6) oncoprotein.

Terms of the Deal

bluebird’s expertise in gene editing and its lentiviral vector platform will be combined with Kite Pharma’s TCR capabilities for the co-development and co-commercialization of second generation TCR candidates. Gene editing will be utilized to efficiently modify certain genes to enhance T cell function. Lentiviral vectors will also be evaluated to optimize the delivery of HPV-16 E6 TCRs into patient T cells.

While Kite Pharma is responsible for leading the program in the U.S., bluebird has the option to lead the program in the EU. Overall costs, including R&D and sales and marketing spend, will be shared and profits will be split equally. Kite Pharma also has the option to co-promote in the EU and bluebird in the U.S.

Kite Pharma’s existing and wholly-owned TCR programs directed against high-risk HPV will remain unaffected by this collaboration. Candidates in the company’s program include HPV-16 E6 TCR (phase I study ongoing) and HPV-16 E7 TCR.

More on HPV

According to the World Health Organization, HPV is the most common viral infection of the reproductive tract. Two viral strains – HPV type 16 and type 18 – are believed to lead to 70% of cervical cancers and precancerous cervical lesions, as well as other urogenital cancers. Moreover, information provided by the CDC indicates that more than 12,000 new cases of oropharyngeal cancers are detected in the U.S., including about 7,500 new cases attributable to HPV-16.

Our Take

We are positive on the collaboration which brings together the technologies and expertise of these two immunotherapy focused companies.

Kite Pharma is looking to revolutionize cancer treatments by engaging the body’s own immune system to treat cancer. The company uses its engineered autologous cell therapy (eACT) to genetically modify T cells to express either chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) or TCRs. These modified T-cells are designed to recognize and destroy cancer cells. Earlier this year, the company had signed up with biotech major Amgen AMGN for the development and commercialization of the next generation of novel CAR T cell immunotherapies based on Kite Pharma’s eACT platform and Amgen’s extensive array of cancer targets.

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