Sangamo Inks $3B Deal with CAR T Leader Gilead

Jack Murtha
FEBRUARY 22, 2018
sangamo kite,sangamo zinc fingers,sangamo gilead,hca news
Sangamo executives tour the company’s laboratory in California.

Sangamo Therapeutics has agreed to a $3 billion next-generation gene-editing collaboration with Kite, an arm of Gilead, in a move that could blast Sangamo’s zinc finger nuclease technology into greater prominence.

The news came a day after Healthcare Analytics News™ published a sweeping 3500-word feature story on Sangamo, a California-based company striving to bring its long-refined proprietary therapeutic technologies to market—and, thus, into the public consciousness—in a world where “gene editing” is almost synonymous with “CRISPR.” Writer Danny Funt spent months researching which company to profile before settling on Sangamo, a decision that ultimately yielded a story that explains just about everything you might want to know about the organization.

Now, back to today’s announcement: Kite and Sangamo said they plan to use Sangamo’s zinc finger nuclease technology platform, which is used to edit genes, to develop “next-generation ex vivo cell therapies in oncology.” Kite will employ zinc finger nucleases to create therapies for autologous and allogenic use in different cancer treatments, in the hope that it might establish a treatment pipeline that starts in oncology infusion centers, cutting the time patients must wait for therapies.

Kite earned plenty of attention last year when it became the second company to secure FDA approval for a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy. Yescarta, its brand name, received the green light to treat patients with certain lymphomas. CAR T-cell therapies, of course, have much of healthcare talking about their great potential, primarily for patients with cancer but also as a financial boon. (HCA also published a feature story on the rise of CAR-T and how hospital decision makers can prepare for its tech component.)

So, what does the marriage between Sangamo and Kite mean?

“This collaboration between Kite and Sangamo brings together 2 leading platforms to develop best-in-class cell therapies in oncology,” Sandy Macrae, PhD, Sangamo’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

John F. Milligan, PhD, who heads Gilead, echoed his counterpart’s confidence. “The emergence of gene editing as a tool to edit immune cells holds promise in the development of therapies with potentially improved safety, efficacy, and efficiency,” he said. “We believe Sangamo’s zinc finger nucleases provide the optimal gene editing platform, and we look forward to working with Sangamo to accelerate our efforts to develop next-generation autologous cell therapies, as well as allogeneic treatments that can be accessed more conveniently in the hospital setting for people living with cancer.”

As far as money goes, Sangamo locked down a $150 million upfront payment, with the chance to earn $3.01 billion in future payments. Additional money would stem from the use of zinc fingers in “10 or more products,” depending on their research, developmental, regulatory, and commercial success. Sangamo is also owed “tiered royalties on sales,” according to the announcement.

Kite is on the hook for developing, manufacturing, and bringing all products to market. It will also pay for certain expenses facing Sangamo.

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