Rick Klausner (file photo)

Two Bay Area up­starts out to de­liv­er on cell ther­a­py 2.0 join forces on a quest: pur­su­ing a Holy Grail in on­col­o­gy R&D

The first time Lyell CEO Rick Klaus­ner looked at what PACT Phar­ma was try­ing to ac­com­plish with neoanti­gens, non-vi­ral T cell en­gi­neer­ing and can­cer, he felt they couldn’t get it done. But in the 3 years since they’ve launched, Klaus­ner has be­come a be­liev­er.

Now, he’s a be­liev­er and a part­ner.

Ear­ly Thurs­day morn­ing, Klaus­ner and PACT CEO Alex Franzu­soff an­nounced a plan to joint­ly pur­sue one of the Holy Grails of on­col­o­gy R&D. Blend­ing their tech­nolo­gies and bring­ing a wide net­work of lead­ing ex­perts to the ta­ble, the two com­pa­nies are work­ing on a per­son­al­ized T cell ther­a­py for sol­id tu­mors. And an IND is in the off­ing.

The col­lab­o­ra­tion joins the Lyell team, which has been con­cen­trat­ing on over­com­ing the ex­haus­tion that af­flicts the first gen­er­a­tion of cell ther­a­pies, with a PACT group that has de­vel­oped tech to iden­ti­fy a pa­tient’s unique sig­na­ture of can­cer mu­ta­tions and use a non-vi­ral method to en­gi­neer their T cells in­to can­cer ther­a­pies.

I spent some time on Wednes­day talk­ing with Klaus­ner and Franzu­soff about the deal, which comes with an undis­closed set of fi­nan­cials as Lyell in­vests in the al­liance.

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