NEW YORK – Sotio, a clinical stage biotechnology firm based in Prague, has paid $8.1 million upfront to acquire Unum Therapeutics' BOXR cell-based therapy platform and lead programs.
The company said on Monday that it is planning to use Unum's BOXR assets and R&D data to advance CAR T-cell therapies for solid tumors. Under the terms of the deal, Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Unum may also be entitled to $3.4 million in milestone payments.
The lead BOXR asset in Unum's pipeline is BOXR1030, which is currently under development for hepatocellular cancer and other solid tumors and is slated to enter clinical trials next year. Preclinical studies showed that BOXR1030 T cells expressing a GPC3 CAR and a Bolt-on gene could evade immune suppression, improve T-cell proliferation, and had better efficacy than standard GPC3-targeted CAR T cells.
According to Sotio CEO Radek Špišek, there may be opportunities to combine Unum's CAR T approach with clinical programs underway at Sotio, such as its IL-15 superagonist program, SO-C101. "The acquisition of the BOXR platform, which creates CAR T cells designed to survive longer and perform better in the solid tumor microenvironment, furthers the evolution of our cell therapy activities and enhances Sotio's diverse approach to treating solid tumors," Špišek said in a statement.
Sotio also plans to expand on Unum's laboratory and manufacturing facility in Cambridge and create an R&D center of excellence for T-cell therapies. Geoff Hodge, former chief technology officer at Unum, and other researchers involved in the development of the BOXR technology will join Sotio to continue working on the R&D programs. Within the collaboration, Sotio will use its manufacturing site in Prague to develop the clinical-grade cell-based treatments.