Biotech Strategy Blog

Commentary on Science, Innovation & New Products with a focus on Oncology, Hematology & Cancer Immunotherapy

Posts tagged ‘Juno Therapeutics’

San Francisco JPM16 Day 1It’s Day 1 of the annual pilgrimage to San Francisco for the JP Morgan Healthcare conference. In light of the success of the daily rolling blogs we’ve done around the conferences we cover, for the first time we’re doing a rolling blog for each day of #JPM16.

Throughout the day (schedule permitting) we’ll be updating the post with commentary around noteworthy news.

Company presentations mentioned in this post include: $PBYI, $CELG, $GILD, $INCY, $SGEN, $MDVN. There’s also commentary on several of the deals announced by Roche, Juno, Novartis, Sanofi, AstraZeneca & Merck.

If you want to follow along yourself, here’s the link to the JPM16 webcasts & conference agenda.

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Over the last year or two, we have covered a number of different pathways that are involved with the immune system including CD19 and 20, CTLA–4, PD–1 and PD-L1, IDO1, CD40, OX40, TIGIT, ICOS and others.

Today, it’s the turn of an oncoprotein called NY-ESO–1 that has been garnering quite a bit of attention of late and will also be highly relevant to some upcoming posts and thought leader interviews we have scheduled here on Biotech Strategy Blog. It’s always a good idea to cover the basics first, before exploring the more advanced concepts.

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At ASCO 2014, one of the posters that attracted a lot of attention was the one from Kite Pharma ($KITE) on their rapid cell expansion (RACE) technology for the production of engineered autologous T cell therapy.

Dr Renier Brentjens at 2012 Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium

As regular blog readers will know, we’ve been following the development of CD19-targeted T cells for the treatment of B cell malignancies such as CLL, ALL and aggressive NHL for some time.

Back in Autumn 2012, at the Chemotherapy Foundation Symposium (CFS) in NYC, more commonly known as the “Greenspan” meeting after the late Dr Ezra Greenspan, we heard presentations on early CAR-T cell data from Dr Renier Brentjens (pictured right) of Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) and Dr Michael Kalos from the University of Pennsylvania (Penn).

At ASH 2012, we wrote about the data presented by Dr Carl June in the Ernest Beutler Prize Lecture. Dr Blazar, who jointly received the award, gave this quote from Dr Beutler, which is a reminder of why basic science is worthy of funding, and how important it is to innovation:

“The tendency to merely elaborate on what many others are doing arises, at least in part, from the almost universal misconception that our understanding of nature is profound, that most or all of the basic concepts have already been discovered, and that success in science consists of filling in the blanks with large teams of collaborators.”

What started off as pure academic research, has within a short period of time, become a hot (if not the hottest) area of immunotherapy drug development as inspired by the potential of early data, companies and investors pour money into commercializing CAR-T cell therapy.

Novartis had obtained the exclusive rights to Penn’s CTL019 CAR-T cell therapy in August 2012 at what now seems a bargain price.

Juno Therapeutics was subsequently created with $176M in Series A private equity funding at the end of 2013 to commercialize the CAR-T cell research of Memorial Sloan Kettering in New York and Seattle’s Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

Last week brought further development with an Initial Public Offering (IPO) from Kite Pharma who have a collaboration with the National Cancer Institute (NCI). Kite said they expected to raise $106M at a share price of $17, which was at the high end of the range. The shares soared 70% in initial trading, and closed at $29 on Friday.

To throw more fuel into the competitive fire, Pfizer have announced the signing of an agreement with French company, Cellectis, to collaborate on the development of their CAR-T cell technology.

In this first of a series of blog posts on gems from the ASCO poster hall, we take a look at the data presented by Kite Pharma and some of the challenges and opportunities the company faces.

Please note this post offers no investment advice and makes no recommendation on whether you should buy or sell shares in $KITE.

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The Inquirer yesterday reported on Philly.com that start-up Juno Therapeutics (Juno) are now in control of a legal dispute between St Jude Children’s Hospital (St Jude) and the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) over chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) intellectual property that contributed to the development of CTL019, licensed by Penn to Novartis. Thanks to @lomu_j for sharing this news on Twitter.

According to the Inquirer, last month Juno entered an agreement with St Jude to commercialize their CAR T-cell technology, which gave them the right to “control, pursue and defend” the dispute between Penn and St Jude.  On December 18, Juno’s intervention was approved in Federal District Court in Philadelphia.

(Update Jan 10: Zack Seward (@ZackSeward) provides additional commentary on WHYY Philadelphia newsworks on “The high-stakes legal fight over a ‘cancer cure from Penn.’ He reports that St Jude have every confidence in their patent.

 

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One of the benefits of attending the American Society of Hematology (ASH) annual meeting that finished earlier this week in New Orleans is the opportunity to talk to experts who are at the forefront of their field.

Picture of Dr Renier Brentjens, Director of Cell Therapeutics, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center

Picture Credit: MSKCC

Renier Brentjens, MD PhD,  is Director of Cell Therapeutics at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center (MSKCC) and one of the scientific founders of Juno Therapeutics (Juno), a start-up company that recently raised $120M in Series A financing.

Luke Timmerman wrote about the company launch on Xconomy and you can read the Dec 4 press release from Juno here.

juno-therapeuticsLike a modern day David versus Goliath, Juno Therapeutics has set itself up to compete with Novartis in the exciting world of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) modified T cell therapy that has already shown dramatic results in pediatric and adult acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

A lot of media attention has focused on the Novartis collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania to develop a novel therapy using CAR modified T cells (CART-19/CTL019) that can be directed against tumor cells that express the CD19 antigen.

The potential promise of CAR modified T cell therapies has already led to a flurry of law suits between the St Jude Children’s Hospital (St Jude) and University of Pennyslvania (U Penn).

According to the Daily Pennsylvanian, U Penn are seeking to invalidate a St Jude patent while St Jude have claimed violations of the terms of a material transfer agreement that allowed access by Carl June (U Penn) to work done by Dario Campana (St Jude).

It will be interesting to see what intellectual property Novartis actually owns and whether they did a thorough enough due diligence prior to licensing the rights to CTL019 from U Penn.

Subscribers to premium content can login to read my interview with Renier Brentjens and listen to audio excerpts from what was a fascinating conversation about a new immunotherapy that has the potential to revolutionize hematology.

New Orleans – the hematology diehards were up early yesterday for the 7.30 am oral session on some of the most interesting data at the annual meeting of the American Society of Hematology (ASH) on potential new treatments for Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL).

Just to make sure everyone’s Fitbits were well exercised, the organizers put the session in the farthest end of the Convention center! Like many of the CLL sessions, it was a full house with multiple financial analysts sitting in the row behind me taking copious notes and pictures.  Unlike at ASCO, there is no virtual meeting, so you can’t replay any of the oral scientific sessions at a later date. If you didn’t see it, you missed it! There’s no substitute for boots on the ground.

What this post is about is my subjective opinion and top-line impressions of the information presented and some of the key strategic issues and challenges that came across listening to a full presentation of the latest data. I’m not going to rehash the press releases and the abstract data, most readers have already assimilated that.

It’s what it says — notes from the road — the kind of things I’d write in a trip report if I were in a company.

The four presentations covered in this post are:

Abstract 871: Dinaciclib (SCH 727965) Is a Novel Cyclin-Dependent Kinase (CDK) Inhibitor That Exhibits Activity In Patients With Relapsed Or Refractory Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL).

Abstract 872: Bcl-2 Inhibitor ABT-199 (GDC-0199) Monotherapy Shows Anti-Tumor Activity Including Complete Remissions In High-Risk Relapsed/Refractory (R/R) Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL) and Small Lymphocytic Lymphoma (SLL).

Abstract 873: Randomized, Phase II Dose Optimization Study Of Chimeric Antigen Receptor Modified T Cells Directed Against CD19 (CTL019) In Patients With Relapsed, Refractory CLL.

Abstract 874: Phase I Trial Of Autologous CD19-Targeted CAR-Modified T Cells As Consolidation After Purine Analog-Based First-Line Therapy In Patients With Previously Untreated CLL.

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Last night Luke Timmerman of Xconomy posted a nice article on the formation of a new Seattle startup, Juno Therapeutics, which aims to develop the chimeric antigen receptor therapy (CART) based on autologous T cells developed by Memorial Sloan Kettering (MSK) in New York, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center (FHCC) and the Seattle Children’s Hospital, both in Seattle.

Juno secured $120M in Series A funding, which is pretty good for a two month old startup and shows how much excitement there is for this exciting technology.

How does this new development impact the CART landscape and in particular, the U Penn and Novartis partnership?

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