Janssen and Legend Biotech Joining Forces to Advance Myeloma CAR T-cell Therapy

Inês Martins, PhD avatar

by Inês Martins, PhD |

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Janssen-Legend partnership

Janssen Biotech and China’s Legend Biotech are teaming up to continue developing and to market Legend’s CAR T-cell therapy for multiple myeloma.

A hot approach in treatment development these days, CAR T-cell therapies involve re-engineering patients’ immune T-cells to fight cancer better. Legend calls its myeloma CAR T-cell candidate LCAR-B38M. CAR T-cell is short for chimeric antigen receptor T-cell.

Legend has been conducting a clinical trial of LCAR-B38M in China that has generated dramatic results. The partners are developing plans for a U.S. trial early in 2018.

Under their collaboration, Janssen will be working with Legend’s U.S. and Irish operations.

LCAR-B38M targets a protein known as B-cell maturation antigen, or BCMA, that is found at high levels on the surface of myeloma cells.

Legend is conducting a Phase 1/2 clinical trial (NCT03090659) in China to determine the therapy’s safety and ability to treat patients with refractory or relapsed myeloma.

“LCAR-B38M provides an innovative approach with the potential to transform the treatment of myeloma,” Dr. Peter F. Lebowitz, Global Therapeutic Area Head of Oncology at Janssen, said in a press release. “We look forward to collaborating with the pioneering scientific team at Legend and applying our expertise to the development of this cell therapy, with the goal of building regimens aiming for a cure.”

The two companies will split global profits from LCAR-B38M, except in China, where Legend will receive 70 percent and Janssen 30 percent. The deal also gives Legend an up-front payment of $350 million.

Legend presented the results of the Phase 1 trial in China at the American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting in Chicago in June 2017.

All of the 35 patients in the study responded to LCAR-B38M. Ninety-four percent experienced either complete or near-complete remission that lasted.

At the time, experts noted that the immunotherapy could be a way to cure myeloma. They called for long-term clinical trials to see whether it can keep patients cancer-free several years after treatment.