Pharma Focus Asia

Kite and Appia Bio Announce Collaboration to Research and Develop Allogeneic Cell Therapies for Cancer

Friday, August 06, 2021

Kite, a Gilead Company, and Appia Bio, Inc., an early stage biotechnology company developing engineered allogeneic cell therapies from hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) for cancer patients, today announced a collaboration and license agreement to research and develop HSC-derived cell therapies directed toward hematological malignancies. Under the partnership, Kite and Appia Bio will develop chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-engineered invariant natural killer T (CAR-iNKT) cells using Appia Bio’s ACUA technology platform for allogeneic cell therapy.

Founded in 2020, Appia Bio recently announced the completion of its Series A financing to support the advancement of the company’s pipeline of allogeneic CAR-iNKT cell therapy candidates into the clinic. With its ACUA technology platform, Appia Bio leverages the biology of lymphocyte development to generate CAR-iNKT cells from HSCs. The ACUA platform offers the potential for improved efficacy and safety, streamlined manufacturing, and off-the-shelf accessibility of HSC-derived CAR iNKT-cell therapies.

“We are thrilled to partner with a leader in cell therapy such as Kite, who shares our vision for the potential of iNKT cells in off-the-shelf allogeneic cell therapy,” said JJ Kang, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of Appia Bio. “Our partnership with Kite is an important step toward establishing the broad pipeline potential of our ACUA platform and bringing new treatment options to patients.”

“As a pioneer in cell therapy, Kite is deeply commited to developing the next-generation of cell therapies to treat and potentially cure cancer patients,” said Mert Aktar, Vice President of Corporate Development and Strategy at Kite. “Through our collaboration with Appia Bio, we’re excited to harness unique biological properties of invariant natural killer T cells to research and develop allogeneic cell therapies for cancer.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Appia Bio will be responsible for preclinical and early clinical research of two HSC-derived CAR-iNKT product candidates engineered with CARs provided by Kite. Appia Bio will receive an upfront payment, an equity investment, and additional milestone payments for a total value of up to $875 million as well as tiered royalties. Kite will be responsible for the development, manufacturing, and commercialization of the product candidates identified through the collaboration.

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