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BioNTech will acquire a TCR cell therapy R&D platform as well as a manufacturing facility in Gaithersburg, Md., from Kite, a Gilead company.
BioNTech and Kite, a Gilead company, announced on July 19, 2021 that they have entered into a purchase agreement for BioNTech to acquire Kite’s solid tumor neoantigen T-cell receptor (TCR) R&D platform and clinical manufacturing facility in Gaithersburg, Md. The transaction is expected to close by end of July 2021.
The Gaithersburg facility will provide production capacity to support clinical trials in the United States and will complement BioNTech’s existing cell therapy manufacturing facility in Idar-Oberstein, Germany. The facility will also support the development of BioNTech’s growing pipeline of novel cell therapies, including cancer product candidates based on its chimeric antigen T cell (CAR-T) amplifying messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine (CARVac) and NEOSTIM platforms as well as the newly acquired individualized neoantigen TCR program.
Under the transaction, Kite will receive a one-time upfront payment from BioNTech. Financial terms were not disclosed. All Kite employees at the Gaithersburg facility will be offered employment with BioNTech prior to the date of closing. BioNTech also plans to further invest in the site to support its growing cell therapy pipeline, including hiring additional personnel. Kite’s new manufacturing facility in Frederick, Md., for commercial production of CAR-T cell therapy is not part of the acquisition.
“The development of individualized cancer therapies is at the core of our work at BioNTech. The acquisition of the Kite facility and its individualized TCR platform allows us to accelerate the clinical development of our cell therapies in the US and advance at the forefront of individualized cell therapies,” said Ugur Sahin, MD, CEO and co-founder of BioNTech, in a company press release. “It also strengthens our presence in the US, building on our successful integration of adoptive T-cell and neoantigen TCR therapies as part of our acquisition of Neon Therapeutics last year.”
“In order to serve more patients that need cell therapy today, Kite is rapidly growing both through global expansion and seeking new indications for our existing approved CAR-T cell therapies. This transaction will enable us to focus our energies and investment on accelerating the reach of our current CAR-T cell therapies and midterm pipeline,” said Christi Shaw, CEO of Kite, in the press release. “As a company solely focused on cell therapy for over a decade, our approach to solid tumors and allogeneic cell therapy will progress through a combination of both internal research and external partnerships.”