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2022-08-04| Partnerships

Roche Dives Deeper into Off-The-Shelf Cell Therapies in Poseida Partnership

by Reed Slater
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Swiss pharma giant Roche is at it again with another big investment in off-the-shelf, allogeneic CAR-T cell therapies, this time with Poseida Therapeutics. The two plan to develop allogeneic CAR-T cell therapy treatments targeting hematologic malignancies in a deal that will bring Poseida $110 million upfront with the potential for $6 billion in future milestone payments.

The Push for More Readily-Available Cell Therapies

Allogeneic CAR-T cell therapies, or off-the-shelf cell therapies, are CAR-T cell treatments manufactured using donor cells instead of the patient’s cells, like autologous CAR-T cell therapies. Engineering donor cells instead of the patient’s cells save both time and potentially money. 

Regarding hematologic malignancies, time is usually of the essence, so rather than wasting precious time engineering a patient’s cells, many companies, like Poseida, are looking to allogeneic cell therapies that could be readily available for medical use immediately, hence the term, ‘off-the-shelf.’

As part of the agreement with Roche, Poseida will receive $110 million upfront for either exclusive rights or the option to develop and commercialize some of Poseida’s hematologic malignancy treatments. Poseida is also eligible to receive an extra $110 million in near-term payments based on milestones in the coming years. Down the road, the San Diego-based company could make up to $6 billion based on future development and commercial milestones. 

Currently, Poseida has one allogeneic CAR-T candidate in Phase 1 trials targeting myeloma and another candidate, targeting B-cell malignancies, which Poseida expects to submit for an investigational new drug (IND) application sometime next year. As part of the deal, Poseida would be responsible for developing products through Phase 1 trials before handing them off to Roche for late-stage clinical development and potential commercialization. 

James Sabry, Global Head of Pharma Partnering at Roche, said, “We are excited to partner with Poseida to further explore the potential of allogeneic cell therapies to transform cancer care by developing off-the-shelf products that can address high unmet medical needs for a broad patient population.”

Related Article: Gene & Cell Therapy’s Big Leaps in the Past 5 Years

Expanding Off-The-Shelf Cell Therapy Ambitions

While not as involved as some other companies in the CAR-T cell therapy revolution, Roche’s initiative in the field is growing with the recent collaboration with Poseida. The most recent deal is not the only allogeneic CAR-T cell therapy Roche has taken part in, nor is it the biggest. 

In September last year, Roche laid down $150 million to Adaptimmune for the licensing rights of up to five of Adaptimmune’s allogeneic CAR-T cell candidates. Similar to the deal with Poseida, Roche offered to pay an extra $150 million in near-term payments based on undisclosed milestones. Adaptimmune is eligible to earn up to $3 billion, contingent upon developmental and commercial milestones. 

All approved CAR-T cell therapies on the market are autologous therapies, so the race is still on to develop a safe and effective allogeneic CAR-T cell therapy for the market. There is some stiff competition with the likes of Allogene and Precision BioSciences, both of which have allogeneic candidates in the clinic. 

CAR-T cell therapies as a whole are developing at a rapid rate, and the hype is based on promising efficacy results. It may have taken Roche a little while to dive into the CAR-T cell therapy game, but with the recent partnership with Poseida, it is clear that Roche is taking the game seriously in hopes of helping spearhead the evolution of next-generation cancer treatments. 

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