Developments in cell therapy boost potential for autoimmune disease treatments

By Andre Rickard, The Science Advisory Board contributing writer

January 19, 2022 -- Healthcare leaders are working together to change the therapeutic landscape for autoimmune diseases, which are often due to unknown causes, according to Cell and Gene Therapy Business Outlook, a sister publication of ScienceBoard. Atara Biotherapeutics, Kyverna Therapeutics, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) are a few organizations that are dedicated to finding treatments for patients with limited options.

Autoimmune diseases are conditions in which the immune system mistakenly attacks healthy cells within the body, causing destruction to various organ systems. The cause of these conditions is often unknown, but autoimmune diseases can wreak havoc in those that live with these conditions.

Atara Biotherapeutics and Be the Match Biotherapies

Atara Biotherapeutics is an off-the-shelf allogeneic T-cell immunotherapy company focused on developing treatments for patients with cancer and autoimmune diseases, such as multiple sclerosis. Atara utilizes T cells from donors with healthy immune systems to recognize and target diseased cells in patients with autoimmune disorders or cancer while preserving their normal functioning cells.

Recently, Atara extended its existing collaboration, formed initially in 2016, with Be the Match Biotherapies, a company specializing in supporting cell and gene therapies. Through this collaboration, Be the Match will provide high-quality healthy donor cells for Atara's T-cell immunotherapy platform. Financial details of this collaboration were not disclosed.

Kyverna Therapeutics and Intellia Therapeutics

Kyverna Therapeutics is a cell therapy company working toward engineering a new class of therapies for inflammatory and autoimmune diseases. Using its SmarTcell approach, which includes synthetic regulatory T-cell and CAR T-cell technology platforms, Kyverna reprograms T cells to target and selectively suppress or eliminate autoreactive immune cells at the origin of the autoimmune disease.

Intellia Therapeutics has granted Kyverna the rights to use its proprietary ex vivo CRISPR-Cas9-based allogeneic platform in the development of KYV-201. KYV-201 is a next-generation CD19 CAR T-cell investigational candidate being developed to treat B-cell mediated autoimmune diseases. As part of the agreement, Intellia received an equity stake in Kyverna and made an additional investment into the company.

Kyverna Therapeutics and the NIH

Kyverna Therapeutics has also partnered with the NIH to target autoimmune diseases. A part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the NIH is the largest biomedical research agency in the world. Under the NIH, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases supports a broad range of basic and clinical research on various autoimmune diseases, including research on systemic lupus erythematosus, inflammatory bowel disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and psoriasis.

To expand on research into therapies for autoimmune diseases, the NIH has granted Kyverna exclusive, worldwide rights for intellectual property related to a novel clinical-stage anti-CD19 CAR T-cell construct to be used uniquely for autoimmune diseases. This therapy can be used in both autologous and allogeneic CAR T-cell therapies. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

Atara Biotherapeutics, Kyverna Therapeutics, and the NIH are leading the way in developing therapies for autoimmune diseases through various collaborations. Currently, there is a high demand for treatments related to autoimmune diseases, with few effective therapies that are available.

In addition, the market for cell and gene therapies is expanding rapidly. Many of these technologies are being applied to treat previously unsolvable disease states, such as autoimmune diseases. With this continued expansion, alongside clinical developments from researchers and healthcare companies, the future for autoimmune disease treatments looks promising.

To stay up to date on the latest business happenings in the cell and gene therapy industry, check out Cell & Gene Therapy Business Outlook today!

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