Kiadis Will Marry Its T-Cell Platform to CytoSen’s NK-Cell Platform in All-Stock Deal

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Netherlands-based Kiadis Pharma inked a deal to acquire U.S.-based CytoSen Therapeutics in order to marry the two company’s T-cell and NK-cell platforms focused initially on hematopoietic stem cell transplants.

The acquisition is an all-stock deal subject to shareholder approval. A meeting to approve the deal will be held May 29.

The combination of the two companies will create a leader in cell-based cancer immunotherapy, Kiadis said. It also further expands Kiadis’ toehold in the United States. In its announcement this morning, Kiadis said the privately-held CytoSen has developed a proprietary natural killer (NK)-cell platform that has a broad anti-cancer potential. CytoSen's lead NK-cell therapy candidate, CSDT002-NK, is expected to enter clinical development in 2020. Kiadis' lead T-cell product ATIR101 is in EU registration and a global Phase III clinical trial.

“The unique combination of proprietary and synergistic NK-cell and T-cell therapy platforms has the potential to revolutionize HSCT and enables Kiadis to create a pipeline with novel cancer treatments,” Kiadis said in its announcement.

Arthur Lahr, chief executive officer of Kiadis, said the addition of CytoSen will allow the company to create cell therapy treatment that combines the innate and adaptive arms of the immune system.

“The ATIR T-cell and CSDT002-NK-cell programs each have the potential to make transplants safer and more effective. In combination, they have the potential to revolutionize HSCT, making it suitable for an even wider group of patients. This transaction will transform Kiadis into a unique company with two synergistic proprietary cell-based immunotherapy platforms and the opportunity to create a pipeline of innovative treatments for cancer patients,” Lahr said in a statement.

NK-cells are one of the body's first lines of immunological defense with an innate ability to rapidly and selectively destroy abnormal cells, such as cancer or virally-infected cells. CytoSen's nanoparticle processing technology enables improved ex vivo expansion and activation of NK-cells supporting multiple high dose infusions with potent anti-cancer cytotoxicity, the company said.

CytoSen’s NK-cell platform was founded on technology licensed from the University of Central Florida. Cal June, one of the scientific advisors to CytoSen and a pioneer in the development of CAR T-cell therapy, will join Kiadis' Scientific Advisory Board as part of the transaction. June, the Richard W. Vague Professor in Immunotherapy in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, said NK-cell therapy could significantly advance the field of immuno-oncology. He noted that the fields of NK-cells and T-cells are synergistic and the “combination could potentially help patients with devastating diseases.”

“The strong experience, infrastructure, and competencies of Kiadis in cell therapy will accelerate our delivery of NK-cells to patients, and the new opportunities for exploring NK-cell and T-cell synergies will enable disruptive innovation in the cell therapy space. I am excited to collaborate with Kiadis to bring this innovation to patients,” Dean A. Lee, CytoSen cofounder said in a statement.

Proof-of-concept studies showed that CytoSen's lead program, CSTD002-NK in HSCT, demonstrated a relapse rate of 8 percent and progression-free survival of 66 percent. The company’s planned clinical study will enroll high-risk acute myeloid leukemia (AML) patients undergoing a haploidentical HSCT. Additionally, CytoSen's NK-cell therapy will be investigated for other cancer treatments based on an 8-patient proof-of-concept study conducted at MDACC in refractory AML.

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