CAR T cell immunotherapy, illustration

Astellas and Poseida Therapeutics have announced a deal around Poseida’s MUC1C-ALLO1, an allogeneic CAR-T cell therapy in Phase I for multiple solid tumor indications.

Astellas will invest a total of $50 million, including $25 million to acquire shares of common stock of Poseida at $3.00 per share in a private placement and a one-time $25 million payment. Astellas will receive a right of exclusive negotiation and first refusal to license  P-MUC1C-ALLO1. In addition, Poseida has granted Astellas a board observer seat.

“This investment further validates the potential of our proprietary genetic engineering technology platform and cell therapy approach,” said Mark Gergen, Poseida’s CEO.

One of Astellas’ focuses is immuno-oncology. Its portfolio includes oncolytic viruses, bispecific immune cell engagers, small molecules, and cell therapy platforms.

Poseida is developing cell and gene therapies for cancer and rare genetic diseases by leveraging its proprietary genetic editing platforms. In oncology, Poseida has a broad pipeline of allogeneic CAR-T cell therapy product candidates for both solid and liquid tumors, including P-MUC1C-ALLO1, which is in Phase I for the treatment of multiple solid tumor indications.

P-MUC1C-ALLO1 is an allogeneic CAR-T product candidate in Phase I development for multiple solid tumor indications. Poseida believes P-MUC1C-ALLO1 has the potential to treat a wide range of tumors derived from epithelial cells, such as breast, ovarian, colorectal, lung, pancreatic and renal carcinomas, as well as other cancers expressing a cancer-specific form of the Mucin 1 protein, or MUC1-C.

Currently, all commercially available CAR-T therapies are autologous, where the T cells are derived from each patient. Poseida says it believes the future of CAR-T lies in allogeneic approaches, where the T cells are derived from healthy donors.

P-MUC1C-ALLO1 is designed to be fully allogeneic, with genetic edits to eliminate or reduce both host-vs-graft and graft-vs-host alloreactivity. Poseida has already demonstrated the elimination of tumor cells to undetectable levels in preclinical models of both breast and ovarian cancer.

“By leveraging our extensive expertise, experience in cancer biology and unique technologies, we are focused on reinvigorating the immune system’s ability to discover, disarm, and destroy cancers in more patients. We are pursuing this ambitious goal through innovative and multifunctional modality platforms,” said Adam Pearson, chief strategy officer, Astellas.

He added that, “We believe that this investment fits strategically with our long-term vision of expanding our capability in immuno-oncology and will ultimately lead to the development of new therapeutics for patients in need of cancer immunotherapy.”

Poseida’s pipeline includes allogeneic CAR-T cell therapy product candidates for both solid and liquid tumors as well as in vivo gene therapy product candidates. The company’s approach to cell and gene therapies is based on its proprietary genetic editing platforms, including its non-viral piggyBac DNA Delivery System, Cas-CLOVER Site-Specific Gene Editing System and nanoparticle and hybrid gene delivery technologies.

“We are excited to enter this strategic relationship with Astellas, a premier biopharmaceutical company that shares our long-term vision that cell and gene therapies represent an exciting growth area for the development of innovative medicines for improving patient care,” Gergen said.

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