Pharma Focus Asia

Astellas Collaborates with Kelonia Therapeutics to Develop Innovative Immuno-Oncology Therapies

Friday, February 16, 2024

Astellas Pharma Inc. (TSE: 4503) and Kelonia Therapeutics have announced a collaborative effort between Xyphos Biosciences, Inc. (a wholly owned subsidiary of Astellas, "Xyphos") and Kelonia to develop innovative Immuno-Oncology therapeutics.

Kelonia specializes in genetic medicines using its in vivo gene placement system called iGPS®, which efficiently delivers genetic cargo to target cells within the patient's body. Xyphos possesses a proprietary technology platform called ACCELTM, which involves its convertibleCAR® technology on immune cells.

Under the agreement, the companies will combine Kelonia's iGPS® with Xyphos' ACCELTM technology to develop novel in vivo CAR-T Cell therapies targeting up to two programs. Xyphos will lead the development and commercialization efforts for products arising from this collaboration. Kelonia will receive an upfront payment of US $40 million for the first program, with an additional US $35 million contingent upon Xyphos exercising its option for the second program. Kelonia will also receive R&D funding for its contributions to the collaboration and is eligible for tiered royalties on net sales.

Kelonia, expressed excitement for the partnership, stating, "Our iGPS platform holds promise for revolutionizing cancer treatment. Combining Kelonia's in vivo gene delivery capabilities with ACCELTM convertible CAR technology presents an ideal synergy to develop off-the-shelf, universal CAR-T Cell therapies."

Astellas, emphasized the company's dedication to advancing cancer treatments, stating, "Astellas is committed to developing innovative therapies for cancer patients, with Immuno-Oncology as a primary focus of our R&D strategy. This collaboration aligns with our mission to expand our portfolio and deliver groundbreaking in vivo CAR-T cell therapies to cancer patients."

ACCELTM technology and convertibleCAR®: ACCELTM technology employs a synthetic biology approach, utilizing an engineered protein ligand binding to an orthogonal engineered receptor forming the extracellular domain of a convertible CAR. The convertibleCAR® is directed toward tumor cells using a tumor-associated antigen-specific engineered antibody-like molecule (MicAbody) containing the engineered ligand.

In vivo CAR-T cell therapies: This therapy involves introducing the CAR gene into the patient's cells within the body, generating immune cells that identify and attack cancer cells. Unlike conventional CAR-T cell therapy, this approach eliminates the need to culture extracted immune cells outside the body, potentially making it more tolerable and accelerating treatment access for patients.



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