Industry Update: Business Development

Written by Dusko ILIC

Latest business developments in the field of stem cell research and regenerative medicine compiled from publicly available information and press releases from non-academic institutions June 01 — June 30, 2017.

Latest business developments compiled from une 01 — June 30, 2017 scheduled to be published in Volume 12 Issue 7 of Regenerative Medicine.

Collaborations, partnerships & alliances

Collaboration agreement: Dragonfly and Celgene

Dragonfly Therapeutics (MA, USA; has announced a global strategic collaboration with Celgene Corporation (NJ, USA; to discover, develop and commercialize innovative immuno-oncology treatment options for patients with hematological malignancies based on Dragonfly’s Natural Killer (NK) cell based TriNKETâ„¢ technology platform. The collaboration allows Celgene the exclusive option to in-license worldwide rights for up to four therapeutic candidates with potential utility in the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia, multiple myeloma, and additional hematological malignancies. The collaboration includes a US$ 33 million upfront payment, and potential future milestone and royalty payments.

Collaboration agreement: Evotec and Censo

Evotec AG (Germany; has announced a collaboration with Censo Biotechnologies (UK; to source and provide patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSC) to support Evotec’s broad iPSC platform. Censo will provide its sourcing and reprogramming technologies and expertise to create a high-quality, bespoke repository of hundreds of patient-derived iPSC lines, covering multiple diseases with an initial focus on CNS diseases. The contract will run for an initial period of two years. No financial details were disclosed.

Collaboration agreement: Intellia and San Raffaele University

Intellia Therapeutics (MA, USA; and San Raffaele University and Research Hospital (Italy; have entered into a three-year research collaboration, option and license agreement to engineer optimized T cell cancer therapies. The goal of the collaboration is to discover innovative tools to target tough-to-treat cancers, while leveraging Intellia’s proprietary CRISPR/Cas9 platform to generate next-generation T cell therapies that will address unmet needs in both hematological and solid tumors. Intellia believes the CRISPR/Cas9 technology has the potential to transform medicine by permanently editing disease associated genes in the human body with a single treatment course. San Raffaele is a multi-specialty center with over 50 clinical specialties and over 1,300 beds. Research focuses on integrating basic, translational and clinical activities to provide the most advanced care to its patients.

Collaboration agreement: Tessa and Parker Institute

Tessa Therapeutics (Singapore; and the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy (CA, USA; have announced the establishment of a multi-year strategic alliance to combine their capabilities to jointly advance research in the field of cancer immunotherapy. The two partners will collaborate on unique clinical and pre-clinical projects in order to develop novel cellular therapy and immuno-oncology combination treatments. The Parker Institute’s model brings together top cancer research institutions to share resources, data, and technology, accelerate research through unifying and managing clinical trial design, and conduct multicenter clinical trials. Tessa brings its T cell therapy expertise to the partnership. Tessa’s Virus Specific T Cell technology holds the promise of becoming a treatment platform for a wide variety of cancer indications and the company’s international production and logistics network enables the rapid roll-out of large-scale, multi-center cellular therapy trials. Tessa is currently conducting the world’s first FDA Phase III cancer T cell therapy trial. This is the Parker Institute’s first major agreement with a cellular therapy partner.

Licensing agreement: Catapult and Ajinomoto

The Cell and Gene Therapy (CGT) Catapult (UK; has licensed data from its pluripotent stem cell development program ‘Cell Plasticity’ to Japanese food and amino acid company Ajinomoto (Japan; Through the use of process and analytical data from CGT Catapult’s program, Ajinomoto was able to evaluate the adherent expansion of CGT’s human induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) line CGT-RCiB10 in different culture systems.



Kite Pharma (CA, USA; has been named to MIT Technology Review’s 2017 list of 50 Smartest Companies. To make the list, a company must exhibit technological leadership and business acumen which sets them apart from competitors. Kite was ranked #7 on this list for its leadership in establishing the field of engineered cell therapy for the treatment of cancer. 

Launching new projects, products & services


NantKwest and Nantworks have announced the expansion of the company’s existing NANT Cancer Vaccine program in pancreatic cancer ( : NCT03136406) to target a number of additional tumor types. The NANT Cancer Vaccine program is a personalized, molecularly informed therapy guided by NantHealth’s Genomic Proteomic Spectrometry (GPS) Cancerâ„¢ test that includes the simultaneous combination of off the shelf natural killer cells (NK) with the endogenous activation of dendritic, T cell and NK cells to more fully enhance the innate and adaptive immune system of cancer patients. GPS Cancer integrates whole genome (DNA) sequencing, whole transcriptome (RNA) sequencing, and quantitative proteomics through mass spectrometry, providing oncologists with unprecedented insight into the molecular signature of each patient’s cancer to inform personalized treatment strategies.