Japanese pharmaceutical company Astellas has extended its cell therapy pipeline by entering an agreement with US-based Poseida for an off-the-shelf CAR-T therapy targeting solid tumors. Astellas is paying $50 million upfront for an option on the allogeneic CAR-T candidate P-MUC1C-ALLO1, which is in early-stage clinical development. The agreement also involves purchasing an 8.8% stake in Poseida for $25 million, an observer seat on Poseida’s board, and involvement in potential changes in control of the company.
This partnership is beneficial for Poseida as it comes after the termination of a gene therapy alliance with Takeda, which aimed to develop up to eight gene therapies and had a potential value of around $3.6 billion. Astellas’ investment provides a boost to Poseida as it navigates this transition.
P-MUC1C-ALLO1 focuses on solid tumors derived from epithelial cells, such as breast and ovarian cancers. The therapy is currently undergoing a phase 1 clinical trial, and initial results are expected later this year. Poseida’s platform enables the creation of off-the-shelf therapies that avoid the complexities of harvesting cells from patients. This could potentially extend the application of CAR-T therapies to solid tumors, a field where they have primarily been effective in hematological cancers.
Astellas has been actively investing in its cell therapy pipeline, aligning with its focus on immuno-oncology. It acquired Xyphos Biosciences for $665 million to access its cell therapy development platform and formed partnerships with Mogrify and Minovia. Despite disbanding a previous collaboration with Adaptimmune, Astellas remains committed to enhancing the immune system’s ability to combat cancers in a broader range of patients.