Today, Kite Pharma, Inc. announced that it has expanded its immuno-oncology partnership with Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center.
The US-based biopharmaceutical company expanded its agreement with the Israeli university to research and develop novel approaches to CAR T cell therapy, the technology underlying Kite’s most advanced programs in cancer immunotherapy. Under the agreement, Kite will collaborate with Professor Zelig Eshhar, PhD, the leading pioneer in CAR T cell research and Chair of Immunology Research within the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center’s Division of Research and Development.
The chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) T cell therapy (CAR T) research field hinges on engineering patients’ own immune cells to recognize and attack their tumors. After collection, the patients’ T cells are genetically engineered to equip them with targeting mechanisms called CARs that seek out and bind to proteins expressed by cancer cells. The cells are then reinjected into the patient to trace malignancies and attack the cancer cells.
“Zelig’s award-winning research has been at the center of CAR T cell programs currently advancing in clinical studies. We are pleased to have an expanded agreement with Zelig and the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center. We believe this collaboration will facilitate continued development and advancement of novel, efficacious, and more selective CAR T cell products for various tumor types,” said Arie Belldegrun, MD, FACS, Kite Pharma’s President and Chief Executive Officer.
Professor Eshhar was recently named one of the recipients of the Massy Price, a prestigious award recognizing outstanding contributions to the biomedical sciences and advancement of health. He was named one of the recipients for his pioneering efforts in immunotherapy and his adoptive T cell approaches to cancer treatment.
Eshhar said that initially, his research addressed the question of if T cells could be programmed to effectively identify and eliminate cancer cells and to figure out how and why cancer cells escape the immune system. Now he believes that the platform technology can be enhanced further to develop a completely new generation of CAR T cell products for various tumor types.
Source: Kite Pharma, Inc.