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Kite and Refuge Biotechnologies to work together to research blood cancer

Kite – a Gilead Company – has entered into an exclusive, worldwide licence agreement with Refuge Biotechnologies (Refuge), a synthetic biology company for cancer immunotherapy.

The agreement grants Kite exclusive rights to utilise Refuge’s proprietary gene expression platform to develop potential treatments for blood cancers.

The proprietary platform created by Refuge is a synthetic biology system that uses an expression modulation strategy to repress or activate transcription of target genes, and early pre-clinical data suggests a potential for this platform to regulate target antigen-dependent gene expression as a means of improving both the efficacy and safety of first-generation CAR T-cell therapies.

Kite will have an exclusive licence to Refuge’s intellectual property portfolio for use in blood cancers, alongside a library of synthetic gene expression programmes for these indications. Moreover, Refuge will retain all rights and programmes related to solid tumour indications.

“First-generation autologous CAR T-cell therapies have dramatically changed outcomes for people with certain blood cancers yet more work needs to be done to reach additional patients. Kite is working on the next generation of cell therapies with the goal to improve upon the results we have today so more patients can benefit,” said Francesco Marincola, global head of cell therapy research, Kite.

“Through this exclusive licence agreement with Refuge’s platform, coupled with our in-house research capabilities, we aim to create a new generation of CAR T-cell products to induce long-term remissions for more patients.”

According to the conditions of the agreement, Kite will be responsible for overseeing all costs and activities linked to research, development, manufacturing and commercialisation. In addition, Kite will also make an upfront payment to Refuge, with Refuge eligible to receive potential performance-based regulatory milestone payments.