AbClon, HK inno.N Collaborates to Take On Novartis’ CAR T-Cell Therapy

by Joy Lin
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AbClon has signed a contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO) deal with fellow South Korean firm HK inno.N to develop and commercialize AT101, an anti-CD19 CAR T-cell therapy for blood cancers. 

HK inno.N will help co-develop and manufacture the treatment at a cell and gene therapy center in Hanam, Gyeonggi Province. The company has selected CAR T-cell and NK cell therapies as future growth areas. 

AT101 was discovered by AbClon’s antibody discovery platform. Preclinical studies showed that the cell therapy is comparable, if not superior, to existing cell therapies, AbClon claimed.  

The candidate was cleared last December by Korean drug regulators to begin a Phase 1/2 trial in relapsed or refractory B-cell non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). The study is expected to enroll around 100 patients and begin this year. 

AbClon believes AT101 can address issues faced by Novartis’ Kymriah (tisagenlecleucel). Despite being the only approved CAR T-cell therapy in Korea, Kymriah’s rollout has been delayed due to issues with health insurance support and negotiations over drug pricing, AbClon argued.  

An AbClon official has remarked that the company intends for a stable product launch through joint development with HK inno.N. 

Related Article: How CDMOs are Restructuring the Biopharma Landscape – An Interview with Bobby Sheng


CAR T-Cell Therapies Brewing in Korea 


South Korean companies are turning their attention to CAR T-cell therapies, with the first clinical trial for a homegrown candidate beginning last October. The honors for the first trial went to the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), which started the Phase 1b trial of its CAR T-cell therapy in 10 patients with relapsed or refractory diffuse B-cell lymphoma at Samsung Medical Center in Seoul. The clinical development and marketing rights have been licensed to Curocell. 

Related Article: South Korea’s SK Inc., Develops Its CDMO Capabilities via Investment in the Center for Breakthrough Medicines

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