NEW YORK – BioNTech on Monday said it will acquire Gilead subsidiary Kite's solid tumor neoantigen T-cell receptor (TCR) therapy R&D program along with its Gaithersburg, Maryland-based cell therapy facility.
The acquisition deal, for which BioNTech will pay Kite a one-time, undisclosed, upfront amount, will give Mainz, Germany-based BioNTech a footprint in North America while allowing Kite to focus on commercializing its existing CAR T-cell therapies.
With the new facility, BioNTech will have the production capacity to run clinical trials in the US, and advance cell therapies in its pipeline. Besides the new neoantigen TCR research program, its pipeline currently includes the CAR T-cell amplifying mRNA vaccine, CARVac, and the T-cell and neoantigen TCR-based programs it acquired from Neon Therapeutics.
Neoantigen TCR therapy involves engineering solid cancer patients' T cells to express TCRs that target the specific neoantigens that their tumors express.
As part of the agreement, all employees who work at Kite's Gaithersburg manufacturing facility will have the option to work with BioNTech, which also plans to hire additional staff. Kite's new manufacturing facility in Frederick, Maryland for CAR T-cell therapy production is not part of this agreement with BioNTech.