Kite Pharma Breaks Ground on New Facility in SoCal That Will Create 200 New Jobs

Kite Pharma Breaks Ground on New Facility in SoCal That Will Create 200 New Jobs
August 7, 2015
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

SANTA MONICA, Calif. – Kite Pharma, Inc. broke ground on a 43,500 square-foot facility in El Segundo, Calif. that will be used to support the launch of the company’s lead cancer-treatment drug candidate KTE-C19, which could be available in 2017.

“We are committed to the rapid advancement of KTE-C19, which has the potential to address the significant, unmet needs of patients with aggressive, refractory B cell lymphomas and leukemias,” Arie Belldegrun, Kite’s chief executive officer, said in a statement.

Belldegrun said the company is initiating pivotal studies for KTE-C19 in multiple indications and believes the new facility will help with not only the completion of the studies, but also commercial launch.

“We also expect the facilities to support clinical trials and potential commercialization of our other eACT based product candidates, including both chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) and T cell receptor (TCR) based product candidates,” Belldegrun added.

Kite Pharma, Inc., is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company engaged in the development of cancer immunotherapy products, specializing in CAR-T therapies. CAR-T therapy involves removing particular white cells from the body called T cells. Fragments of an antibody that recognizes and targets specific cancer cells are then attached to the T cells and reinfused back into the patient. This programs the patient’s immune system to attack tumor cells. So far the technique has shown effectiveness and reasonable safety against blood cancers like leukemias and lymphomas. The results against solid tumors such as ovarian and pancreatic cancer have been less successful.

The new El Segundo site will not be ready for use until 2017, but will nearly triple the company’s manufacturing space. Currently Kite Pharmaceuticals operates a 18,000 square-foot facility in Santa Monica, which is used for manufacturing, research and development and corporate office space. Kite selected the El Segundo site due to its proximity to the Los Angeles airport, which will aid in product distribution.

Additionally, Kite has the option to add another 17,000 square feet to the El Segundo site before July 2017, the company said. The site will create about 200 new jobs when it’s ready for use, The Daily Breeze reported this morning.

Kite has partnerships with the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) and Amgen to develop therapies that engineer white blood cells to fight cancer. Under the agreement, which netted Kite a $60 million upfront payment earlier this year, Kite will leverage its CAR platform, research and development and manufacturing capabilities to develop and commercialize a next generation of novel CAR T cell immunotherapies.

Last year Kite acquired Netherlands-based TCF, which was renamed Kite Pharma EU, to establish a European presence for Kite operations. The transaction allows Kite to expand its product pipeline of TCRs for the treatment of solid tumors, complementing its CAR pipeline.

Although Kite fell short of expectations when the company released its 2014 annual financial report in March, analysts are still predicting a good year for 2015. Analysts at Canaccord Genuity set a $90 price target on Kite shares in April, while analysts at Credit Suisse set a target of $79. Both groups rated the stock a “buy.”

is down more than 3 percent this morning, trading at $69.90 per share.

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