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Bayer Cancels Cell Therapy Licensing Deal With Atara Biotherapeutics

NEW YORK – Atara Biotherapeutics said on Thursday that Bayer plans to end their licensing agreement for Atara's mesothelin-directed CAR T-cell therapies, ATA3271 and ATA2271.

The worldwide licensing agreement, which Atara and Bayer inked in December 2020, outlined the terms for developing both therapies in high mesothelin-expressing tumors including malignant pleural mesothelioma and non-small cell lung cancer.

Both the allogenic ATA3271 and the autologous ATA2271 use Atara's Epstein-Barr Virus T-cell platform and mesothelin-targeting CAR T-cell technologies.

After a strategic review of its pipeline assets, Bayer has decided it will terminate the licensing agreement in September and return the full development and commercialization rights to the cell therapies to Atara. For its part, Atara said it remains confident that ATA2271 and ATA3271 can benefit patients with solid tumors, but that the firm is reassessing the best development strategy for these programs.

South San Francisco, California-based Atara is supporting a Phase I study of ATA2271 conducted by Memorial Sloan Kettering, for which it plans to provide an update during the second half of this year. That study, however, temporarily paused enrollment in February following a patient death.

The firm will also continue ongoing investigational new drug-enabling preclinical studies for ATA3271, though it has announced it will postpone its investigational new drug filing, previously planned for the fourth quarter.