In an effort to marry T cell and natural killer cell technologies for the treatment of blood cancer, Dutch biotech Kiadis has inked an all-stock deal to acquire US-based CytoSen Therapeutics.
Both companies have had the same goal: to boost the chances of cancer patients undergoing hematopoietic stem cell transplants by supercharging their immune system while their bone marrow recovers from the procedure. Kiadis does this with engineered T cells; CytoSen chose NK cells, designed to attack any remaining malignant cells that could lead to a relapse. Both technologies take cells from a family member of the patient so that the immune cells would be partially matched.
Aside from a new tech platform, Kiadis also scored a network of prominent collaborators on CytoSen’s founding team, including Dean Lee of Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Stefan Ciurea of the MD Anderson Cancer Center and Robert Igarashi from the University of Central Florida. Carl June, the pioneering CAR-T expert, is also joining its scientific advisory board.
UCF first came up with the CytoSen method, which derives nanoparticles from antigen presenting cells to stimulate proliferation of NK cells. Nationwide further refined it, and the first human studies were conducted at MD Anderson.
The company, which is listed on Euronext Amsterdam and Brussels ($KDS) now expects to take CytoSen’s lead program, CSDT002-NK, into the clinic in 2020, targeting high-risk acute myeloid leukemia patients. Earlier proof-of-concept data from 25 patients had demonstrated a relapse rate of 8% and progression-free survival of 66%, according to a press release.
Meanwhile, Kiadis’ ATIR101 is under review in Europe for a marketing approval, with a potential launch planned for this year.
“The ATIR T-cell and CSDT002-NK-cell programs each have the potential to make transplants safer and more effective,” CEO Arthur Lahr said. “In combination, they have the potential to revolutionize HSCT, making it suitable for an even wider group of patients.”
Per the deal, CytoSen investors — who have remained unnamed — will gain a 7.4% stake in Kiadis, or 1.94 million shares. They are eligible to receive up to 5.82 million more shares should development and regulatory milestones be reached.
The combined entity will have $55.4 million (€ 49 million) from Kiadis and $6 million from CytoSen to work with.
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