Kite Pharma, Inc. and bluebird bio, Inc. have announced that they have entered into a collaboration agreement to co-develop and co-commercialize second generation T cell receptor (TCR) product candidates directed against the human papillomavirus type 16 E6 (HPV-16 E6) oncoprotein incorporating gene editing and lentiviral technologies. bluebird bio has a platform comprised of lentiviral gene delivery and gene editing capabilities, with a focus on rare diseases and cancer immunotherapies.
Kite has a broad existing pipeline of TCR product candidates and will continue to develop its existing and wholly-owned TCR programs directed against high-risk HPV, which are unaffected by this collaboration, including HPV-16 E6 TCR, currently in a Phase I study, and HPV-16 E7 TCR. The collaboration brings together the powerful technologies and capabilities of these two leading immunotherapy companies.
Under the terms of the agreement, both companies will jointly develop and commercialize second generation TCR product candidates directed against the HPV-16 E6 oncoprotein, incorporating gene editing to efficiently modify certain genes to enhance T cell function. In addition, the companies will explore using lentiviral vectors to optimize delivery of HPV-16 E6 TCRs into patient T cells.
Kite will lead the program in the U.S., and bluebird bio will have the option to lead the program in the European Union. Both companies will share overall costs, including research and development and sales and marketing expenses, and profits will be equally split between the companies. Additionally, Kite will have a co-promotion option in the European Union, and bluebird will have a co-promotion option in the U.S.
"As we continue to build a differentiated immuno-oncology portfolio, we are delighted to partner with Kite in a collaboration that combines their leadership in T cell-based immunotherapies with our expertise in gene editing and industry-leading lentiviral vector platform," said Nick Leschly, chief bluebird. "We believe partnering with Kite will allow us to deliver game-changing T cell therapies to patients through great science and great capabilities."
"This partnership is a natural fit with our mission to develop and deliver novel immunotherapies for cancer patients, and collaborating globally with bluebird bio will allow us to benefit from the strengths and capabilities of both companies in immuno-oncology. Through this collaboration, we will have access to our partner's strong science expertise and enabling technologies to further enhance one of our key TCR programs and to evaluate gene editing technology in the context of T cell therapy," said Arie Belldegrun, M.D., FACS, Kite's Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer.