BioNTech Inks $250M Deal with Autolus to Advance CAR-T Assets

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Pictured: Sign outside BioNTech's building in Germany/iStock, U. J. Alexander

BioNTech is making moves in early 2024 to strengthen its CAR-T pipeline, with a $250 million licensing and manufacturing deal announced Thursday with Autolus Therapeutics to advance the companies’ respective programs.

Under the deal, BioNTech will collaborate with U.K.-based  Autolus  to advance both companies’ autologous CAR-T programs toward commercialization. BioNTech will purchase $200 million of Autolus’ American Depositary shares in a private placement and have the right to appoint a director to the company’s board.

BioNTech will also pay Autolus $50 million in cash and will be able to get mid-single digit royalties for sales of obe-cel, Autolus’ CAR-T asset, while the British company will hang on to the full rights and control of the drug.

In the collaboration, BioNTech will have access to Autolus’ commercial and clinical site network and production in the U.K. to accelerate the development of its asset BNT211, a CAR-T candidate in solid tumors that has shown some positive results in early-stage trials. BioNTech said it will have 10 or more “ongoing potentially registrational” trials in its pipeline by the end of this year.

BioNTech will also have the option to support some of Autolus’ development efforts and co-commercialize the AUTO1/22 and AUTO6NG candidates, engaging in a profit share with the company if it chooses to go forward.

“We see a remarkable opportunity to leverage our core capabilities, accelerate pipeline programs, realize cost-efficiencies, and expand opportunities beyond autologous cell therapies,” Autolus CEO Christian Itin said in a statement. “We look forward to investing a portion of the capital raised on delivering on obe-cel’s path in adult acute lymphoblastic leukemia, potentially offering another treatment option for patients with an unmet medical need. 

The deal also gives BioNTech a license to develop and eventually commercialize therapeutics that use Autolus’ proprietary binders and allows these business and cell programming technologies to be used in BioNTech’s cell therapies and antibody-drug conjugates.

“The collaboration with Autolus enables us to expand our BNT211 program into trials for multiple cancer indications cost-efficiently. Autolus’ state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities’ set-up for clinical and commercial supply will enhance our capacities in addition to our existing U.S. supply network and the ongoing expansion of our site in Gaithersburg, Maryland,” BioNTech CEO Ugur Sahin said in a statement. 

BioNTech is transitioning away from its COVID-19 business and deeper into the oncology space. Last month, in a $20 million upfront deal the company acquired two of WuXi Biologics’ preclinical monoclonal antibodies. However, the details of the antibodies’ therapeutic target were not revealed at the time. 

Tyler Patchen is a staff writer at BioSpace. You can reach him at tyler.patchen@biospace.com. Follow him on LinkedIn.

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