Belgium-based Celyad granted Novartis a nonexclusive license to its allogeneic chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell technology for two unspecified Novartis targets. The potentially $96 million deal includes an up-front payment and single-digit royalties on net sales of the products developed using the licensed technology. The deal gives Novartis an option to extend the license to additional targets, and/or to convert it to an exclusive license. Celyad retains the right to grant allogeneic CAR T-cell licenses to other parties.

Christian Homsy, M.D., CEO of Celyad, commented, “This nonexclusive agreement with Novartis recognizes the importance of our IP for companies developing allogeneic CAR T-cell therapies.”

Celyad is developing its Natural Killer Receptor T-cell (NKR-T) platform for the potential treatment of a range of solid and hematologic tumors. Lead CAR T-cell candidate NKR-2 expresses the human NK receptor NKG2D, which Celyad claims binds to ligands that are expressed on 80% of cancers, giving the product potential utility against both solid and hematologic cancers. The firm is developing both allogenic and autologous NKR-2 products. The allogeneic NKR-2 CAR T-cell product has been successfully evaluated in a Phase I study in patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and multiple myeloma (MM). In March, the firm received FDA clearance to start a second, U.S.- and EU-based open-label Phase Ib study, THINK, in multiple cancer indications, including five solid cancers and two hematological cancers.

During mid-2016, Celyad and Ono Pharmaceutical inked a potentially $311.5 million deal for the allogeneic NKR-2 T-cell therapy in Japan, Korea, and Taiwan. The agreement includes an exclusive option for Ono to license the autologous KNR-2 T-cell product in the same territories.

Celyad also has an ongoing NKR-T research collaboration with the Institut Curie in Paris, France, signed in March 2016.

Celyad has separately been developing its C-Cure® cell therapy for heart failure, and although the European CHART-1 Phase III C-Cure study failed to meet its primary endpoint in mid-2016, the study indicated potential benefits of treatment for specific subsets of patients. Celyad is using the trial data to optimize the design of a second pivotal U.S.-based trial, CHART-2, and is looking for partners to continue C-Cure development and commercialization.


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