Takeda Pharmaceutical inked a collaboration agreement with Tokyo-based Noile-Immune Biotech to develop next-generation anticancer chimeric antigen receptor T-cell (CAR-T) immunotherapies based on CAR-T technology developed by Yamaguchi University’s Koji Tamada, M.D., Ph.D., and licensed exclusively to Noile-Immune. 

The firms say the CAR-T therapy generates molecules, including cytokines and chemokines, that are expected to influence or change the microenvironment of solid tumors to boost antitumor efficacy. They project using the technology to discover and develop CAR-T immunotherapies against a broad range of cancers. 

Under terms of the agreement, which was signed through Takeda’s Millennium Pharmaceuticals subsidiary, the Japanese drugs giant will provide resources for the collaboration and make a technology access payment to Noile-Immune. Takeda will also make an undisclosed equity investment in Noile-immune, which was set up in 2015 to develop cancer immunotherapies.

“This technology forms the basis for developing potentially transformational treatments for solid tumors,” said Hidenobu Ishizaki, M.D., Ph.D., president of Noile-Immune. “We believe our collaboration with Takeda is a significant step toward rapidly delivering therapies that use this technology to cancer patients.”

Collaborative work will be sited at Takeda’s Shonan Research Center in Japan. “We recognize the enormous potential of next-generation CAR-T technology to deliver transformative medicines in oncology, one of our core therapeutic areas,” said Chris Arendt, Ph.D., head of Takeda’s Oncology Drug Discovery Unit. “This collaboration is another example of our commitment to invest in highly innovative technologies and to work with top external scientific and clinical teams as we seek to deliver therapies that address the needs of patients with cancer.”

Just last month Takeda announced a research and licensing collaboration with Molecular Templates to develop anticancer therapeutics, based on the latter’s engineered toxin body technology, against targets selected by Takeda. The previous month, Takeda negotiated an exclusive, potentially $340 million deal with Tesaro to develop the poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) inhibitor niraparib (ZejulaTM) for all tumor types in Japan and for all tumor types excluding prostate cancer in South Korea, Taiwan, Russia, and Australia. (Janssen Biotech has an exclusive global license, excluding Japan, to niraparib for the prostate cancer indication.) Zejula was approved by FDA in March for the maintenance treatment of ovarian cancer.

In May, Takeda negotiated exclusive rights to acquire U.K. start-up GammaDelta Therapeutics as part of a strategic collaboration to develop T-cell immunotherapies against multiple types of cancer and autoinflammatory diseases.

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