Guest post by Raveena Bhambra, Senior Analyst at Current Partnering
If you’ve not heard of CAR-T cell therapy and you’re based in the biotech industry, where have you been? Over the past year the technology has become one of the most talked about and anticipated technologies as promising clinical trials and high value deals focused on its use has hit the headlines.
So what is CAR-T cell therapy? It’s a new approach to treat cancer by using the body’s own cells to destroy cancer cells. T-cells are extracted and modified so that they express a Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) which inside the body targets antigens on cancer cells and kills them. This technology has proved successful in a number of blood cancers.
As you can imagine a concept such as this has generated a lot of excitement in the partnering world; the technology however is still at the early stages where it needs a lot more funding, testing for side effects and clinical trials—cue for the big pharma/biotech companies to step in….
Since 2014, 16 deals have been signed involving CAR-T cell therapy with the highest value deals being signed by global giants Pfizer, Novartis, Merck Serono and Janssen Biotech according to Current Agreements. Big biotech company Amgen took the deal values to new heights earlier this year when it signed a USD 1.1 billion collaboration and licensing deal with Kite Pharma. I feel that this deal has set a new benchmark and now similar or higher value deals will start being announced as further companies look to secure their piece of the CAR-T cell therapy pie.
The bar has also been raised in terms of IPOs as companies who all have promising CAR-T cell technologies being developed in-house have managed to raise some of the highest IPO’s over the last year; Juno Therapeutics (USD 265 million), Cellectis (USD 228 million) and Bellicum Pharmaceuticals (USD 140 million). These companies are most definitely companies to watch and will surely be pursued for partnering deals or even acquisition.