Amgen and Kite Pharma said today they will develop and commercialize what they termed “the next generation” of Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cell immunotherapies, in a deal that could generate a combined billion-plus dollars for both companies.

The companies’ collaboration will make use of Amgen’s array of cancer targets and Kite’s engineered autologous cell therapy (eACTTM) platform, as well as Kite’s R&D and manufacturing capabilities, and expertise.

Kite agreed to conduct all preclinical research and cell manufacturing and processing through IND filing, with each of the companies then being responsible for clinical development and commercialization of their respective CAR therapeutic candidates, including all related expenses.

Amgen agreed to pay Kite $60 million upfront, plus funding for R&D costs through IND filing. Amgen also agreed to pay Kite $525 million per Amgen development program, plus tiered high single- to double-digit royalties for sales and the license of Kite's intellectual property for CAR T cell products. In return, Kite agreed to pay Amgen an equal amount per Kite program, plus tiered single-digit sales royalties.

“We believe that the therapeutic candidates resulting from the collaboration will have the potential to dramatically transform CAR approaches and to become some of the most powerful therapies for the treatment of cancer,” Arie Belldegrun, M.D., FACS, Kite Pharma's prCEo, said in a statement.

Added Sean E. Harper, M.D., Amgen evp of Research and Development: “We believe joining forces with Kite Pharma will leverage our targets and their leading CAR T cell platform to advance another new promising therapeutic approach to fight cancer.”

The collaboration with Kite is Amgen’s latest move toward developing cancer therapies. Just last month, Amgen joined with Merck to study a combination of the former’s investigational oncolytic immunotherapy talimogene laherparepvec with the latter’s Keytruda® (pembrolizumab) in patients with regionally or distantly metastatic melanoma. A total 110 patients will be assessed across 35 clinical trial sites in the U.S., Australia, and Europe.

And in August, Kite reported positive results from a Phase I/IIa trial, showing that eight of 13 patients with advanced B cell malignancies had complete remissions while another four of the patients reported partial remissions after receiving anti-CD19 CAR T cells.

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