Mustang Bio Licenses CAR-T Technologies From Harvard
Mustang Bio Inc., a subsidiary of Fortress Biotech Inc., expanded its chimeric antigen receptor engineered T-cell (CAR-T) intellectual property Dec. 4 through a licensing agreement with Harvard University’s Office of Technology Development.
The licensed technologies were developed by Harvard Stem Cell Institute’s Chad Cowan and focus on the development of off-the-shelf CAR-T therapies and CRISPR/Cas-9 gene-editing programs. Mustang will apply the IP to ongoing research and development activities in the areas of solid tumors and blood cancers.
The company was formed in 2015 and is developing early-stage projects for glioblastoma, acute myelogenous leukemia, multiple myeloma, B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and prostate, pancreatic, gastric and bladder cancers under licenses from City of Hope and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. [See Deal] (Also see "Mustang Leads Fortress's CAR-T Ambitions Of Monstrous Proportions" - Scrip, 26 Jul, 2017.)
Juno Licenses Gamma Secretase Inhibitor IP From OncoTracker, Hutchinson
Biomarker firm OncoTracker Inc. and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center have each granted Juno Therapeutics Inc. exclusive intellectual property rights, announced Dec. 6, related to the combination of gamma secretase inhibitors (GSIs) with B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA)-directed engineered T-cells for the treatment of multiple myeloma.
Based on research suggesting that GSIs can enhance the expression of BCMA on tumor cells (including multiple myeloma), Juno hopes that combining the inhibitors with BCMA-directed T-cells will increase potency and effectiveness. The company expects to move quickly with the new type of CAR-T therapeutic; it announced during the just-concluded J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference that it plans to start trials of its JCARH125 in myeloma this quarter, and in announcing the gamma secretase deal said it plans to have a combo candidate in Phase I trials within the next year. (Also see "J.P. Morgan Notebook Day 3: Lilly's CGRP Prospects, Juno On Track, Color From Alnylam's Greene, Shire's New CMO" - Scrip, 11 Jan, 2018.)
bluebird bio Inc. and partner Celgene Corp. presented data on their Phase I, BCMA-targeted CAR-T bb2121 in heavily pretreated multiple myeloma at the end of 2017 at the American Society of Hematology meeting. (Also see "Celgene's CAR-T Leadership Goals Advance At ASH 2017" - Scrip, 12 Dec, 2017.)
In addition to the intellectual property from OncoTracker and Fred Hutchinson, Juno also licensed a gamma secretase inhibitor from Eli Lilly & Co. through a separate transaction. [See Deal]
King's College London Licenses Glycoimmune IP To Palleon
King’s College London granted Palleon Pharmaceuticals exclusive rights Dec. 12 to a patent portfolio surrounding the development of glycoimmune checkpoint inhibitor therapeutics for cancer. Palleon was formed in 2015 based on research licensed from Stanford University and the University of Dundee, Scotland showing that tumor-cell evolution alters cell-surface glycans and makes immune cells unable to detect and kill off cancer cells.
Through the current deal, Palleon gains rights to IP from the lab of King’s College researcher Joy Burchell related to aberrant glycosylation in breast cancer and how the glycosylation of the mucin MUC1 contributes to immunosuppression and cancer cell survival. Palleon will use Burchell’s research to further its development of glycoimmune checkpoint inhibitors that have the potential to overcome resistance to first-generation immuno-oncology therapies.
Ocugen Gets Gene Therapy Platform Rights From Schepens
Ocugen Inc. acquired exclusive global rights Dec. 20 to develop and commercialize ophthalmic therapies based on technology from the Schepens Eye Research Institute of Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary.
Developed by researcher Neena Haider, the IP relates to the targeted delivery and expression of certain nuclear hormone receptors (NHRs) that are naturally expressed in retinal tissue and play a key role in regulating retinal cell development, maturation, metabolism, visual cycle function and survival.
Ocugen is using the technology to develop OCU400, a gene therapy with the potential ability to restore retinal integrity and function across various genetically diverse inherited degenerative retinal diseases (IRDs). Preclinical OCU400 can possibly treat IRDs such as S-cone syndrome, Goldman-Favre syndrome, retinitis pigmentosa and other forms of retinal and macular degeneration in a single therapy.
Start-Up Tamid Gets Three Preclinical Gene Therapies From UNC
A newly created Fortress Biotech subsidiary, Tamid Bio Inc., obtained exclusive rights Dec. 5 to three preclinical adeno-associated virus (AAV) gene therapies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The licensed candidates were developed in the lab of Matthew Hirsch, an ophthalmology professor at the UNC Gene Therapy Center.
The lead program, to be named Tamid001, is designed to target the ocular manifestations of mucopolysaccharidosis Type I (MPS I). The orphan disease results from mutations in the IDUA gene, which causes the buildup of glycosaminoglycans in multiple organs, including the eye. Tamid001 has demonstrated proof-of-principal in an MPS I canine model.
Also in-licensed from UNC were preclinical candidates aimed at dysferlinopathies (muscular dystrophies caused by mutations in the dysferlin gene) and corneal transplant rejection. Hirsch will lead preclinical and early clinical work.
AstraZeneca, Imperial College Launch Respiratory Research Partnership
AstraZeneca PLC will base researchers at Imperial College London in a three-year research partnership that will focus on mechanisms and drivers of respiratory diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Mark Birrell, a senior science director at AstraZeneca, and Teresa Tetley, an Imperial professor, will lead the effort based on a joint research plan that will focus on mechanisms related to inflammation, neuropharmacology and lung irritancy.
The three-year collaboration, announced Dec. 21 and beginning in January, will include AstraZeneca funding of additional research roles in the college's respiratory pharmacology group, and could be extended beyond the initial funding period. No specific financial terms were disclosed.
Celgene Inks MRNA-Focused Partnership With Cancer Research UK
Cancer Research UK, through its affiliate Cancer Research Technology Ltd. (CRT), unveiled a five-year collaboration with Celgene Corp. Dec. 15 to focus on mRNA translation, which the partners say offers the potential to yield treatments that can target a fundamental characteristic of cancer cells – the assembly of proteins.
It is CRT's largest cancer collaboration to date and is using its theme-based translational model, which has anchored five previous collaborations with biopharmaceutical companies. Celgene will pay an undisclosed upfront fee, with CRT to lead discovery activities and be able to progress candidates through Phase I.
Celgene holds the option to license US rights to resulting compounds for an additional fee and to obtain global rights to candidates at the conclusion of Phase I development. For any compound Celgene licenses, CRT can also earn development milestones and sales royalties.
Telix, Memorial Sloan Kettering Partner In Precision Medicine
Australia's Telix Pharmaceuticals Ltd. will provide its Phase III radiopharmaceutical TLX-250 to New York's Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center for use in studying precision medicine in renal cancer. Under an agreement announced Dec. 14, the biotech will provide clinical-grade TLX-250 and fund the implementation of a new radiochemistry process at the center, which will use the radiopharmaceutical to track and optimize therapy for patients with metastatic clear cell renal cell cancer (ccRCC).
Telix believes treatment-response monitoring using TLX-250 can improve the way renal cell cancer patients are cycled through therapeutic options, such as tyrosine kinase inhibitors, mTOR (mechanistic target of rapamycin) inhibitors and vascular endothelial growth factor-targeting drugs, as well as more recent options such as Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.'s PD-1 inhibitor Opdivo(nivolumab). The MSKCC effort will focus on early treatment to standard-of-care therapies, including Pfizer Inc.'s Sutent (sunitinib) and Novartis AG's Votrient (pazopanib).
Fate, UCSD Team To Study Natural Killer Cell Cancer Immunotherapies
Fate Therapeutics Inc. is staying close to home in partnering with University of California, San Diego to research the use of induced pluripotent stem cell-derived chimeric antigen receptors as off-the-shelf natural killer (NK) cell products in cancer.
Under the two-year collaboration unveiled Dec. 6, the San Diego-based biotech holds a license to CAR constructs optimized for NK cell-signaling in the lab of UCSD researcher Dan Kauffman. Fate also holds an option to exclusively license any IP resulting from the collaboration with UCSD. No financial terms were disclosed.