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GEN News Highlights : Oct 11, 2006

Ariad Licenses Argent Technology for Cancer Therapies

Bellicum will use the firm’s small molecule dimerizer on its immune-cell vaccine candidate for aggressive prostate cancer.
Ariad Pharmaceuticals licensed its Argent™ cell-signaling regulation technology to Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, according to a recent nonexclusive, royalty-bearing license agreement. Bellicum will use this technology to develop and commercialize new cancer therapies using Ariad’s small molecule dimerizer drug, AP1903, which successfully completed a Phase I trial.

"This partnership was established to create additional value for Ariad, based on our Argent technology, without the need to invest in the development costs associated with these efforts," says Harvey J. Berger, M.D., chairman and CEO of Ariad. "Our primary internal focus remains the development and commercialization of our lead oncology product candidate, AP23573, initially in advanced sarcomas, followed by a series of further indications in oncology."

The Argent technology allows control of intracellular processes with small molecules, which is useful in the development of therapeutic vaccines, as well as gene and cell therapy products and provides tools for applications in cell biology, functional genomics, and drug discovery research, explains Ariad.

Bellicum’s initial product candidate will be an immune-cell cancer vaccine to treat aggressive forms of prostate cancer, reports the company. Preclinical studies show that incorporating an Argent-inducible protein under dimerizer control into dendritic cell vaccines improves the potency and longevity of the antitumor response.

Ariad will have an equity stake in Bellicum and will receive additional payments, based on certain development, regulatory, and commercial milestones achieved by the company.