Kite and Humanigen Announce Clinical Collaboration to Evaluate Investigational Combination of Yescarta® (Axicabtagene Ciloleucel) with Lenzilumab in Relapsed/Refractory Diffuse Large B-Cell Lymphoma

-- Phase 1/2 Multi-Center Clinical Trial to Begin Enrolling in Q4 2019 --

SANTA MONICA, CA and BURLINGAME, CA, USA I May 31, 2019 I Kite, a Gilead Company (Nasdaq: GILD), and Humanigen, Inc. (HGEN) announced today the formation of a clinical collaboration to conduct a Phase 1/2 study of lenzilumab, an investigational anti-GM-CSF monoclonal antibody, with Yescarta® (axicabtagene ciloleucel) in patients with relapsed or refractory diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL). The objective of this study is to determine the effect of lenzilumab on the safety of Yescarta. Kite will act as the sponsor of this study and will be responsible for its conduct.

GM-CSF has been identified, through clinical correlative analysis and preclinical modeling, as a potential key signal in the inflammatory cascade triggering toxicities associated with chimeric antigen receptor T (CAR T) cell therapy.1 Toxicities associated with CAR T therapy include neurologic toxicity and cytokine release syndrome (CRS). Emerging pre-clinical evidence suggests that lenzilumab inhibition of GM-CSF may have the potential to disrupt CAR T cell mediated inflammation without disrupting CAR T cell anti-tumor efficacy.

“CAR T therapy represents a significant advance in the way relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphoma is treated,” said John McHutchison, AO, MD, Chief Scientific Officer, Head of Research and Development, Gilead. “As leaders in cell therapy, we are committed to pursuing a number of clinical and preclinical strategies aimed at further improving the efficacy and safety of CAR T therapy. We look forward to this clinical collaboration with Humanigen and to evaluating the combination of lenzilumab and Yescarta in our clinical trial.”

“Humanigen has pioneered the approach to neutralizing GM-CSF to improve CAR T,” said Cameron Durrant, MD, Chief Executive Officer, Humanigen. “This collaboration with Kite will help validate the work Humanigen has done in understanding the pathophysiology of the inflammatory cascade as well as the potential role GM-CSF plays in influencing CAR T cell treatment outcomes.”

Yescarta was the first CAR T cell therapy to be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphoma after two or more lines of systemic therapy, including DLBCL not otherwise specified, primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma, and high grade B-cell lymphoma and DLBCL arising from follicular lymphoma. Yescarta is not indicated for the treatment of patients with primary central nervous system lymphoma. The Yescarta U.S. Prescribing Information has a BOXED WARNING for the risks of cytokine release syndrome and neurologic toxicities; see below for Important Safety Information.

Lenzilumab, alone or in combination with other therapies such as Yescarta, is investigational and has not been approved by the FDA or any regulatory authority for any uses. Efficacy and safety have not yet been established.

Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, Incorporated acted as exclusive financial advisor to Humanigen in this transaction.

About Kite

Kite, a Gilead Company, is a biopharmaceutical company based in Santa Monica, California. Kite is engaged in the development of innovative cancer immunotherapies. The company is focused on chimeric antigen receptor and T cell receptor engineered cell therapies. For more information on Kite, please visit www.kitepharma.com.

About Gilead Sciences

Gilead Sciences, Inc. is a research-based biopharmaceutical company that discovers, develops and commercializes innovative medicines in areas of unmet medical need. The company strives to transform and simplify care for people with life-threatening illnesses around the world. Gilead has operations in more than 35 countries worldwide, with headquarters in Foster City, California. For more information on Gilead Sciences, please visit the company’s website at www.gilead.com.

About Humanigen, Inc.

Humanigen, Inc. is developing its portfolio of Humaneered® monoclonal antibodies to address cutting-edge CAR-T optimization and the need for new oncology drugs that provide safer, better, and more effective cancer therapies. Derived from the company’s Humaneered® platform, lenzilumab, ifabotuzumab, and HGEN005 are monoclonal antibodies with first-in-class mechanisms. Lenzilumab, which neutralizes human GM-CSF, is in development as a potential biologic therapy to make CAR-T therapy safer and more effective, as well as a potential treatment for hematologic cancers. Ifabotuzumab, which targets the Eph type-A receptor 3 (EphA3), is being explored as a potential treatment for a range of solid tumors, as well as a backbone for a novel CAR-T construct, and a bispecific antibody platform. HGEN005 which selectively targets the eosinophil receptor EMR1 is being explored as a potential treatment for a range of eosinophilic diseases including eosinophilic leukemia both as an optimized naked antibody and as the backbone for a novel CAR-T construct. For more information, visit www.humanigen.com.

  1. Sterner, R., Sakemura, R., Cox, M., Yang, N., Khadka, R., Forsman, C.,… Kenderian, S. (2019). GM-CSF inhibition reduces cytokine release syndrome and neuroinflammation but enhances CAR-T cell function in xenografts. Blood : the official journal of the American Society of Hematology, 133:697-709. doi: https://doi.org/10.1182/blood-2018-10-881722

SOURCE: Kite

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