Astellas Pharma, through its subsidiary Xyphos Biosciences, has entered into a second collaborative agreement with Poseida Therapeutics to pioneer the development of off-the-shelf cell therapies for solid tumors. This follows their initial partnership in 2023, which aimed to explore genetic engineering in CAR-T cell therapies.

Under the new agreement, Astellas will finance the venture with $50 million upfront and could provide up to $550 million in milestone payments. Additionally, Poseida stands to earn royalties on future sales if the therapies reach commercialization. The collaboration centers around the development of two CAR-T therapy candidates known as the convertibleCAR programs, utilizing Poseida’s allogeneic CAR-T platform combined with Xyphos’ ACCELTM technology.

Gary Starling, president of Xyphos Biosciences, emphasized the significance of this partnership, stating that the combination of Poseida’s genetic editing technology with Xyphos’ convertible CAR-T therapies—which can be activated or deactivated using an antibody—could lead to safer and more effective treatments for solid tumors.

Kristin Yarema, president and CEO of Poseida, highlighted the novelty of their approach, particularly their focus on lymphodepletion strategies in solid tumors, a method that differs significantly from current practices primarily used in hematological cancers. Poseida’s commitment to innovation is also demonstrated by their development of P-MUC1C-ALLO1, a leading CAR-T therapy under investigation for its potential against a variety of cancers including breast, colon, and lung cancer.

In addition to their collaborative efforts, Astellas has also invested directly in Poseida, purchasing an 8.8% stake in the company for $25 million and securing the right of first refusal to license P-MUC1C-ALLO1.

This partnership not only reinforces Astellas’ commitment to advancing cancer treatment through innovative cell therapies but also positions both companies at the forefront of tackling the challenging arena of solid tumors with potential new treatments that could significantly impact patient care.

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