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Kite Pharma (KITE) Acquires T-Cell Factory, Focus on Europe - Analyst Blog

Kite Pharma, Inc. KITE announced the acquisition of a privately held Netherlands-based biotechnology company, T-Cell Factory B.V. (TCF). TCF, located in Amsterdam, has been renamed as Kite Pharma EU and established as the company’s European headquarters.

Terms of the Acquisition

Kite Pharma will make an upfront payment of up to €20 million (approximately $21 million) to TCF shareholders, licensors and employees, of which €3.8 million (approximately $4 million) will be paid in Kite Pharma’s stock. Additionally, Kite Pharma will make clinical, regulatory and sales milestone payments to TCF upon the achievement of such targets relating to TCR-based candidates.

Per the deal, Kite Pharma has obtained license agreements with IBA GmbH, Sanquin Blood Supply Foundation and the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI), which include the rights to select new intellectual property related to T-cell receptors (TCRs) developed at the NKI. Additionally, the TCF acquisition will allow Kite Pharma to access the European manufacturing facilities, paving way for the company to initiate development programs in the EU and build its presence in the region.

Benefits of the TCF Acquisition

Kite Pharma believes that the acquisition will reinforce its TCR product platform as TCF’s novel discovery and development platform offers wide opportunities in the field of TCR gene therapy. According to the company, TCF has the potential to discover and develop tumor-specific TCRs with broad applications in oncology therapies based on its proprietary TCR-GENErator platform. This should complement Kite Pharma’s pipeline of TCR-based candidates including NY-ESO-1 (various types of tumor) and HPV-16 E6 antigens (cervical, head and neck cancers), among others.

Moreover, with this acquisition, Kite Pharma will establish its presence in the European market, following its plans to expand clinical operations outside the U.S.

We note that the TCF acquisition came on the heels of Kite Pharma’s announcement on Mar 2, 2015 regarding an amendment to its Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the National Cancer Institute (NCI) regarding emerging areas of research on tumor neo-antigens and solid tumor targeting new TCR- and chimeric antigen receptor- based candidates.

Kite Pharma carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Some better-ranked stocks in the health care sector are ANI Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ANIP, Cytokinetics, Inc. CYTK and Horizon Pharma plc HZNP. All these stocks carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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