By Ajay V. Patil
With whopping $300 million in series-A funding, Allogene therapeutics quickly raised additional $100 million to become a blockbuster biotech IPO. We summarize its inception and development of next generation allogenic CAR-T cell therapy in tandem.
Arie Belldegrun and David Chang led Kite Pharma, which developed one of the initial FDA approved engineered autologous CAR-T cell therapies. Gilead Sciences took over Kite Pharma for $11.9 billion in an all-cash deal. Early versions showed that complex manufacturing of on-demand autologous CAR-T cells is both, time consuming and expensive. Hence, development of allogenic CAR-T cells is considered as a key to make the CAR-T cell therapy more accessible. The company which first started developing in this direction and ultimately produced allogenic UCART19 using TALEN technology was Cellectis. UCART19 was acquired by Pfizer – focusing to develop a portfolio of 16 preclinical cell therapy assets. Arie Belldegrun and David Chang, started Allogene Therapeutics with $300 million in Series A funds and acquired Pfizer’s cell therapy portfolio in return for 25 percent ownership stake.
For the near future goals, Allogene plans to move UCART19, CD19-targeting CAR-T treatment into registrational trials by late half of 2019. It is currently in phase 1 trials for children and adults with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Other products in development include, ALLO-715, ALLO-819, and ALLO-501. They also plan is to submit INDs for ALLO-715 and ALLO-501 by next year. These CART therapies mainly target two proven candidates – CD19 and BCMA. However, there are three new targets in the development pipeline (Flt3, CD70 and DLL3).
Assuring company’s faith in assets and top executives, CFO Eric Schmidt quoted, “I think we at Allogene have been very fortunate to have inherited assets that make for an exciting story in an exciting area of therapeutic development in the CAR-T space. We have on our side Arie Belldegrun and David Chang; those are guys who have been here before, know the business, know the landscape and know the people. I don’t think there are too many teams that can claim to have the experience that we have.”
The fate of this company is crucial for the development of next generation CAR-T cell therapy in general and for the fate of clinical adoption of allogenic immunotherapies in particular. Although company is going through appropriate transitions and being meticulously grown by experienced team, successful phase II & III clinical trial results of its early products will boost the further growth and expansion towards larger and more promising portfolio.
- Allogene Therapeutics S-1 Breakdown – Nisarg Patel
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