Astellas subsidiary Xyphos and Kelonia Therapeutics have signed a research and licensing deal worth $800 million to develop immuno-oncological therapies.

Shreeyashi Ojha, Reporter

February 19, 2024

2 Min Read

As per the agreement, the partnership aims to create universal chimeric antigen receptor (CAR-T) therapies for cancer by combining Kelonia’s in vivo gene placement system (iGPS) technology with Astellas’ ACCEL convertible CAR platform.

Although specific details on timelines for this partnership were not revealed, a spokesperson from Kelonia told us, through the combination of iGPS and ACCEL several key advantages can be achieved. These include: 

  • potential to increase patient access to genetic medicine 

  • provide a tunable CAR that can flexibly direct activity to tumor antigens 

  • eliminate the need of lymphodepleting chemotherapy or T cell manufacturing 

“While approved autologous CAR-T cell products are highly effective, they suffer from several limitations. Taken as a whole; our approach has the potential to enable more patients to gain access to this transformative modality,” Kevin Friedman, CEO of Kelonia told BioProcess Insider. 

“We’re working within the cell therapy modality. We are using our iGPS technology to deliver universal CAR-T cargo directly to target immune cells within patients’ bodies.” 

According to Kelonia, its iGPS platform can efficiently transduce T cells in vivo, enabling durable responses with a single dose. The platform will improve the efficiency of manufacturing and eliminate the need for ex vivo manufacturing, a process that corrupts T cell fitness, resulting in generating healthier cells with better outcomes.  

Moreover, the ACCEL technology platform uses its convertible CAR-T to direct cells of the immune system to target single or multiple tumor antigens.  

“The ACCEL platform utilizes binding of an engineered protein ligand to an orthogonal engineered receptor which forms the extracellular domain of a convertible CAR. The convertible CAR is targeted to tumor cells with a tumor-associated antigen-specific engineered antibody-like molecule (MicAbody) containing the engineered ligand. Astellas will use our gene placement system to deliver this payload to target cells within the patient’s body,” said Friedman. 

Kelonia will receive a $40 million upfront payment, and an additional $35 million if Astellas exercises its option to a second program. The milestone payments are worth up to $800 million. 

About the Author(s)

Shreeyashi Ojha

Reporter, BioProcess Insider

Journalist covering the manufacturing and processing sectors for biopharmaceuticals globally.  

Originally from India, I am a Londoner at heart. I have recently graduated from Goldsmiths, University of London.  

Feel free to reach out to me at: [email protected].

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