Bayer and Atara Biotherapeutics enter strategic collaboration for next generation, mesothelin-targeted CAR-T cell therapies for solid tumors

IndustryPRwire – Bayer AG and Atara Biotherapeutics announced an exclusive worldwide license agreement for next-generation, mesothelin-directed CAR-T cell therapies for the treatment of solid tumors. The agreement includes the development candidate ATA3271, an armored next generation allogeneic T-cell immunotherapy, and an autologous version, ATA2271, for the treatment of high mesothelin-expressing tumors such as malignant pleural mesothelioma and non-small-cell lung cancer.

Atara is a pioneer in allogeneic T-cell immunotherapy with industry-leading allogeneic cell manufacturing processes and next-generation CAR-T technologies. The licensed technology leverages Atara´s novel, proprietary Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) T-cell platform combined with next generation CAR-T technologies targeting mesothelin to improve efficacy, persistence, safety, and durability of response.

Wolfram Carius, Head of Bayer’s Cell & Gene Therapy Platform Commented “This transaction is a fundamental element of Bayer’s new Cell & Gene Therapy strategy. It strengthens our development portfolio through allogeneic cell therapies and consolidates our emerging leadership in the field, We look forward to partnering with Atara to develop next-generation off-the-shelf CAR-T cell therapies for patients with difficult-to-treat cancers.”

Pascal Touchon, President and CEO Atara Commented “This exciting partnership between Atara and Bayer will accelerate the development of next-generation mesothelin-targeted CAR-T cell therapies for the treatment of multiple solid tumors and helps us bring the power of our allogeneic cell therapy platform to patients as quickly as possible, Bayer’s proven track record in oncology global development and commercialization, and growing presence in cell and gene therapy, enhances Atara’s capabilities and complements our leading allogeneic T-cell platform.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Atara will lead IND (Investigational New Drug)-enabling studies and process development for ATA3271 while Bayer will be responsible for submitting the IND and subsequent clinical development and commercialization. Atara will continue to be responsible for the ongoing ATA2271 phase 1 study, for which an IND filing has been accepted and the clinical trial has been initiated. Atara will receive an upfront payment of USD 60 million and is eligible to receive payments from Bayer upon achievement of certain development, regulatory and commercialization milestones totaling USD 610 million, as well as tiered royalties up to low double-digit percentage of net sales.

As part of the transaction, Atara will also provide translational and clinical manufacturing services to be reimbursed by Bayer. In addition, for a limited period of time, Bayer has a non-exclusive right to negotiate a license for additional Atara CAR-T product candidates.

About CAR-T cell therapy

T cells are a type of white blood cell that are critical in eliminating the body of abnormal and cancerous cells in healthy individuals. In cancer patients, these T cells frequently fail to either recognize or effectively engage cancer cells. CAR-T cell therapies involve engineering a human T cell to express a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) that increases its ability to recognize cancer cells. These therapies use the immune system to fight cancer and have the potential to disrupt cancer care and potentially even provide a cure. Mesothelin is a tumor-specific antigen that is commonly expressed at high levels on the cell surface in many aggressive solid tumors and is an attractive target for immune-based therapies, including CAR-T therapy.

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