Gilead Sciences and its cell therapy subsidiary Kite announced today that they have entered into a definitive agreement under which they have agreed to acquire Cell Design Labs, Inc., gaining new technology platforms that will enhance research and development efforts in cellular therapy.
The transaction will build on Gilead’s recent acquisition of Kite Pharma, Inc. and has the potential to help the Gilead and Kite organizations accelerate the development of next generation cellular therapy candidates.
Cell Design Labs is a pre-clinical stage company with significant expertise in custom cell engineering. The company is developing two propriety technology platforms: synNotch™, a synthetic gene expression system that responds to external cues which, among other applications, can be deployed to engineer chimeric antigen receptor T (CAR T) cells that require dual antigen recognition for activation, and Throttle™, an “on switch” that modulates CAR T activity using small molecules. The addition of these technologies to existing Kite research and development programs could lead to the treatment of a broader range of hematological malignancies and solid tumors, and potentially offer improved selectivity and safety of future treatments. Additionally, Cell Design Labs is developing several pre-clinical product candidates, including therapies for prostate cancer and hepatocellular carcinoma that use the synNotch technology. The company’s lead pre-clinical candidate targets multiple myeloma.
“We are excited about the potential of the synNotch and Throttle technology platforms and the application of these technologies to complement ongoing Kite research and development efforts,” said John F. Milligan, PhD, Gilead’s President and Chief Executive Officer. “This acquisition demonstrates our deep commitment to continuing to invest in future innovation in the field of cellular therapy, both internally and externally. Cell Design Labs’ talented team of cell biology experts will augment and accelerate our work to bring forward new generations of CAR T and TCR therapies, building on our acquisition of Kite earlier this year and our efforts to improve care for people with advanced cancers.”