Drug Development

The next breakthrough? MSK’s Sadelain ties up with Fate on off-the-shelf CAR-Ts

Fate Therapeutics is teaming up with one of the star scientists at Memorial Sloan Kettering to start work on off-the-shelf T cell therapies, one of the hottest fields in the next-gen CAR-T field.

 Michel Sadelain

Michel Sadelain

This morning the San Diego-based biotech announced that it will partner with Michel Sadelain, a key scientist at MSK who has played a prominent role in developing Juno’s personalized CAR-Ts.

To get started, Fate has in-licensed tech that centers on engineering pluripotent cell lines to make them effective for all targeted patients. The first wave of CAR-Ts centers on personalized therapeutics in which investigators extract immune T cells from patients, arm them with chimeric antigen receptors and then infuse them back into the patient to hunt down cancer cells. That approach has proved particularly effective for the front-wave hematologic programs now in the clinic.

Sadelain had this to say:

“Engineering therapeutic attributes into pluripotent cell lines, such as antigen specificity, lack of alloreactivity, enhanced persistence and histocompatibility, is a breakthrough approach to renewably generate potent T-cell immunotherapies. This unique approach offers the prospect for off-the-shelf delivery of T-cell immunotherapies with enhanced safety and therapeutic potential at the scale necessary to serve significant numbers of patients.”

In just the last few months the CAR-T field has been undergoing some dramatic and unexpected changes. Novartis, one of the pioneers, opted to dissolve its 400-person cell and gene therapy unit, laying off 120 staffers as it attempts to integrate the work into its oncology division. Juno, meanwhile, was seriously thrown off schedule with its lead program after a brief clinical hold. That leaves Kite in the lead with plans to gather data from an ongoing study and hustle it to the FDA with rapid-fire planning.

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