Biotech Companies Partner with Memorial Sloan Kettering to Develop Multiple Myeloma Immunotherapy Program

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by Charles Moore |

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Juno, Eureka partner with Memorial Sloan Kettering Center Center

JunologoJuno Therapeutics and privately held biotech Eureka Therapeutics have entered into an immunotherapy development partnership with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) of New York City.

The exclusive license agreement is for joint development of a novel fully-human binding domain targeting B-cell maturation antigen (BCMA), and binding domains against two additional undisclosed multiple myeloma targets to be used to potentially develop and commercialize chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) cell therapies for myeloma patients.

It also has the potential to accelerate Juno’s multiple myeloma program. The binding domains were developed under a separate collaboration agreement between Eureka Therapeutics and MSK. The companies expect to begin human testing of the BCMA CAR therapies as early as the first half of 2017.

Juno’s corporate goal is to revolutionize medicine by developing a broadly applicable cell-based platform for re-engaging the body’s immune system to treat cancer. Its management team believes therapeutic use of human T-cells will be a driving force behind advancing one of the next important phases in medicine.

The company is developing cell-based cancer immunotherapies based on its CAR and high-affinity T-cell receptor (TCR) technologies to genetically engineer T-cells to recognize and kill cancer cells, and says it has demonstrated compelling evidence of tumor shrinkage in clinical trials using cell-based product candidates to address refractory B-cell lymphomas and leukemias.

Eureka Therapeutics’s main research objective is developing first-in-class T-cell immunotherapies for hematological malignancies and solid tumors. The company’s core technology platforms are focused on the discovery and engineering of fully human antibodies against intracellular targets via the MHCI complex. The company is also developing novel cancer therapies targeting intracellular oncogenes.

As one of the world’s oldest and largest private institution devoted to cancer treatment, prevention, patient care, research, and education, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center seeks to generate innovative approaches to enhance understanding, diagnosis, and treatment of cancer. MSK scientists are in the vanguard of biomedical research and advancing standards of cancer care worldwide.

LevitskyH“We are optimistic that CAR T therapy can be an important component in treating patients with multiple myeloma, and we are pleased to bring additional fully-human binding domains against BCMA and other targets into our program,” Dr. Hy Levitsky, MD, Juno’s chief scientific officer, said in a press release.

“We believe that a multi-pronged approach may be necessary to treat this disease, and we will pursue more than one target against myeloma. The MSK and Eureka constructs are promising additions to our portfolio that will accelerate our efforts and provide additional opportunities to combat this disease,” he said.

ChengLiuEureka’s founder, president and CEO Dr. Cheng Liu said the company is pleased to work with Juno on CAR T therapies against myeloma, a devastating disease.

“For the past three years, we have been working with MSK to develop CAR T therapies against multiple myeloma, and we are delighted that Juno is able to use their broad expertise to bring these therapies to patients faster,” he said.

Under the collaborative agreement, MSK and Eureka Therapeutics are eligible to receive an undisclosed upfront payment and additional payments when certain clinical, regulatory, and commercial milestones are achieved, as well as royalties on net sales.