The Japanese pharmaceutical company Astellas has acquired Parker Institute-backed biotech Xyphos as it aims to improve the cancer pipeline. Xyphos may be able to create cells that migrate harmlessly when first provided by using the modified receptor in CAR-T therapies. Xyphos was then able to turn on the CAR-T by applying a bispecific binding to its inactive NKG2D receptor and tumor antigen.
The method has, in theory, some benefits over CAR-Ts of the first generation. Using bispecifics to activate CAR-T therapies and bring them into contact with tumor cells that minimize off-target effects and allow regulation of treatment severity.
For comparison, if CAR-Ts of the first generation continue to proliferate increasingly exponentially, doctors have little ability to pump the brakes on the procedure. Last fall, the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy teamed up with Xyphos to promote next-generation CAR-T therapies, primarily to boost the blunt power of the original CAR-Ts by developing more controllable therapies away from their predecessors ‘ safety concerns and effectiveness drawbacks.
Xyphos was behind biotech companies working on various solutions for the same issues, working on safety switches with other businesses, such as Bellicum and Ziopharm, Thus Gilead purchased a synthetic biology start-up to build control mechanisms for its CAR-Ts. “At Astellas, immuno-oncology is a primary focus of our R&D policy, and we are working to develop next-generation cancer immunotherapy using new modalities/technologies,” said Kenji Yasukawa, Astellas ‘ president and CEO.
“Xyphos ‘ groundbreaking engineering approach fits perfectly in developing our immuno-oncology plan to build and deliver value for patients. Combining this technology with our cell therapy technologies that we have focused on so far, we will create high-function cells of the next decade and maximize the value of our inventions.” It comes just a few weeks after Astellas sent Audentes $3 billion down, furthering the quest for gene therapy.
The Japanese pharma puts bigger bets on the prospects of next-gen cell and gene therapies with this new offer. James Knighton, CEO of Xyphos, added: “Astellas ‘ dedication to immuno-oncology makes them an ideal partner for advancing our innovative NKG2D-based NK-cell and T-cell technology to the next scientific discovery level. However, we look forward to joining Astellas to drive this thriving South San Francisco community’s immuno-oncology research and development.