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Gilead Collaborates with Pfizer for Yescarta Combo Study

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Gilead Sciences’ (GILD - Free Report) subsidiary Kite announced that it has entered into a collaboration with Pfizer, Inc. (PFE - Free Report) to evaluate a combination of its newly approved CAR-T therapy Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel) and Pfizer's utomilumab, a 4-1BB agonist, for refractory large B-cell lymphoma.

A phase I/II study is expected to begin in 2018 and will be sponsored by Kite. The results of the study will be used to find options for further development of this combination, or similar combinations between Kite’s engineered T-cell products and utomilumab.

Gilead’s stock has increased 13.4% in the year so far, compared with the industry’s 3.8% gain.

 

Yescarta was approved in October 2017 as the second (CAR) T cell therapy to get FDA approval. The first CAR-T therapy — Novartis’ (NVS - Free Report) Kymriah received approval by the FDA in August 2017. Yescarta is the first CAR-T therapy indicated for the treatment of adult patients with relapsed or refractory large B-cell lymphoma after two or more lines of systemic therapy.

Pfizer is developing utomilumab, also known as PF-05082566, in both hematologic cancers and solid tumors as a single agent and in combination with other anti-cancer therapies.

We remind investors that Kite was acquired by Gilead in October 2017. Kite was a pioneer in cell therapy, having developed engineered cell therapies that express either a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) or an engineered T-cell receptor (TCR), depending on the type of cancer. The acquisition diversified Gilead’s portfolio and positioned the company in a dominant position in cellular therapy space.

The CAR-T therapy space has remained in investor focus in 2017, courtesy of immense potential. CAR-T cell therapy is expected to be revolutionary in cancer treatment. 

Another company that also develops CAR-T therapy is Juno Therapeutics, Inc. , whose most advanced pipeline candidates include JCAR017 and JCAR014. Juno was also in the news recently after reports surfaced that it will be acquired by Celgene Corporation.

Another clinical-stage company committed to developing CAR-T therapy is bluebird bio, Inc., whose lead oncology programs, bb2121 and bb21217, are anti-BCMA CAR T programs which are being developed in collaboration with Celgene.

Zacks Rank

Gilead has a Zacks Rank #4 (Sell). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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