Fate Therapeutics Announces New Preclinical Data for FT596 Off-the-Shelf, iPSC-derived CAR NK Cell Cancer Immunotherapy

Sunday, 08. December 2019 16:39

FT596 as a Monotherapy Demonstrates Comparable Anti-tumor Activity to CAR19 T Cells In Vivo in Humanized Mouse Model of Lymphoma

Combination of FT596 with Rituximab Shows Durable Tumor Clearance In Vivo in Preclinical Lymphoma Model

Company Plans to Initiate Enrollment of First-in-human Clinical Trial of FT596 in Early 2020

SAN DIEGO, Dec. 08, 2019 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Fate Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: FATE), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the development of programmed cellular immunotherapies for cancer and immune disorders, announced new in vivo preclinical data for FT596, its off-the-shelf, multi-antigen targeting natural killer (NK) cell product candidate derived from a clonal master engineered induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) line. The data were featured during the 61st American Society of Hematology (ASH) Meeting and Exposition as part of the organization’s CAR-T and Beyond press program, which spotlighted promising next-generation cancer immunotherapies having the potential to overcome the key limitations of patient-specific chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy.

“Current patient- and donor-specific CAR T-cell immunotherapies recognize only one antigen and fail to address the significant risk of relapse due to antigen escape. FT596 is ground-breaking in that it is designed to be available off-the-shelf for timely patient access and to promote deeper and more durable responses by targeting multiple tumor-associated antigens,” said Bob Valamehr, Ph.D., Chief Development Officer of Fate Therapeutics. “Additionally, since FT596 is manufactured from a renewable master engineered iPSC line, the complexities of patient-by-patient genetic engineering and production are greatly reduced and, for the first time, we are able to mass produce multi-functional cellular immunotherapies in a uniform and cost-effective manner.”

FT596 is the first cellular immunotherapy engineered with three active anti-tumor components to be cleared for clinical investigation by the FDA. In addition to a proprietary CAR targeting CD19, FT596 expresses a novel high-affinity, non-cleavable CD16 (hnCD16) Fc receptor that has been modified to augment antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity, enabling coincident targeting of CD19 and additional tumor-associated antigens such as CD20. FT596 also expresses an interleukin-15 receptor fusion (IL-15RF), a potent cytokine complex that promotes survival, proliferation and trans-activation of NK cells and CD8 T cells without the need for systemic cytokine support. Together, these features of FT596 are intended to maximize potency and minimize toxicity in treated patients. The Company plans to initiate enrollment of a first-in-human clinical trial of FT596 in early 2020.

New preclinical data presented at ASH showed that FT596 administered as a monotherapy exhibited durable tumor clearance and extended survival in vivo similar to primary CAR T cells in a humanized mouse model of CD19+ lymphoma. Additionally, when combined with the anti-CD20 monoclonal antibody rituximab, FT596 showed enhanced killing of CD20+ lymphoma cells in vivo as compared to rituximab alone. These data confirm previously presented in vitro findings that demonstrate the unique multi-antigen targeting functionality of FT596, and the product candidate’s potential to effectively overcome CD19 antigen escape.

The Company also announced that, in preparation for Phase 1 initiation, it had recently completed GMP production of FT596. In a single small-scale manufacturing campaign, the Company produced over 300 cryopreserved, infusion-ready doses of FT596 at a cost of approximately $2,500 per dose. The Company’s iPSC product platform unites stem cell biology and precision genetic engineering to create renewable master engineered iPSC lines that can be repeatedly used to mass produce cancer-fighting immune cells, replacing the high production costs, weeks of manufacturing time, and complex manufacturing processes required for current-generation CAR T-cell immunotherapies with a lower-cost, easier-to-manufacture, well-characterized, off-the-shelf product that has the potential to reach many more patients.

FT596 is the third off-the-shelf, iPSC-derived NK cell product candidate from the Company’s proprietary iPSC product platform cleared for clinical investigation by the FDA in the past twelve months. On Saturday, the Company announced that the first patient treated for acute myeloid leukemia in its Phase 1 clinical trial of FT516, an off-the-shelf, iPSC-derived NK cell cancer immunotherapy engineered to express hnCD16, showed no morphologic evidence of leukemia, chimerism of FT516 in the bone marrow, and hematopoietic recovery, including complete neutrophil recovery without growth factor support (>1,000 per µL), after receiving three once-weekly doses of FT516 and IL-2 cytokine support.

About Fate Therapeutics’ iPSC Product Platform
The Company’s proprietary induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) product platform enables mass production of off-the-shelf, engineered, homogeneous cell products that can be administered with multiple doses to deliver more effective pharmacologic activity, including in combination with cycles of other cancer treatments. Human iPSCs possess the unique dual properties of unlimited self-renewal and differentiation potential into all cell types of the body. The Company’s first-of-kind approach involves engineering human iPSCs in a one-time genetic modification event and selecting a single engineered iPSC for maintenance as a clonal master iPSC line. Analogous to master cell lines used to manufacture biopharmaceutical drug products such as monoclonal antibodies, clonal master iPSC lines are a renewable source for manufacturing cell therapy products which are well-defined and uniform in composition, can be mass produced at significant scale in a cost-effective manner, and can be delivered off-the-shelf for patient treatment. As a result, the Company’s platform is uniquely capable of overcoming numerous limitations associated with the production of cell therapies using patient- or donor-sourced cells, which is logistically complex and expensive and is subject to batch-to-batch and cell-to-cell variability that can affect clinical safety and efficacy. Fate Therapeutics’ iPSC product platform is supported by an intellectual property portfolio of over 250 issued patents and 150 pending patent applications.

About FT596
FT596 is an investigational, universal, off-the-shelf natural killer (NK) cell cancer immunotherapy derived from a clonal master induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) line engineered with three anti-tumor functional modalities: a proprietary chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) optimized for NK cell biology, which contains a NKG2D transmembrane domain, a 2B4 co-stimulatory domain and a CD3-zeta signaling domain, that targets B-cell antigen CD19; a novel high-affinity 158V, non-cleavable CD16 Fc receptor that has been modified to augment antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity by preventing CD16 down-regulation and enhancing CD16 binding to tumor-targeting antibodies; and an IL-15 receptor fusion (IL-15RF) that promotes enhanced NK cell activity. The FDA has allowed investigation of FT596 in an open-label Phase 1 clinical trial as a monotherapy, in combination with rituximab for the treatment of advanced B-cell lymphoma, and in combination with obinutuzumab for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia. In preclinical studies of FT596, the Company has demonstrated that dual activation of the CAR19 and CD16 receptors, in combination with IL-15RF signaling, convey synergistic anti-tumor activity. Increased degranulation and cytokine release were observed upon dual receptor activation in lymphoma cancer cells as compared to activation of each receptor alone, indicating that multi-antigen engagement may elicit a deeper and more durable response. Additionally, in a mixed cellular composition cytotoxicity assay comprised of CD19+ and CD19- tumor cells, FT596 combined with CD20-directed monoclonal antibody therapy effectively eliminated the heterogeneous population of tumor cells, a result that was not observed with single-antigen targeted CAR19 T cells.

About FT516
FT516 is an investigational, universal, off-the-shelf natural killer (NK) cell cancer immunotherapy derived from a clonal master induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) line engineered to express a novel high-affinity 158V, non-cleavable CD16 Fc receptor, which has been modified to prevent its down-regulation and enhance its binding to tumor-targeting antibodies. The product candidate is being investigated in an open-label, multi-dose Phase 1 clinical trial as a monotherapy for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia and in combination with CD20-directed monoclonal antibodies for the treatment of advanced B-cell lymphoma (clinicaltrials.gov ID number NCT04023071). CD16 mediates antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC), a potent anti-tumor mechanism by which NK cells recognize, bind and kill antibody-coated cancer cells. CD16 occurs in two variants, 158V or 158F, that elicit high or low binding affinity, respectively, to the Fc domain of IgG antibodies. Numerous clinical studies with FDA-approved tumor-targeting antibodies, including rituximab, trastuzumab and cetuximab, have demonstrated that patients homozygous for the 158V variant, which is present in only about 15% of patients, have improved clinical outcomes. In addition, ADCC is dependent on NK cells maintaining active levels of CD16 expression, and the expression of CD16 on NK cells has been shown to undergo considerable down-regulation in cancer patients, which can significantly inhibit anti-tumor activity.

About Fate Therapeutics, Inc.
Fate Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the development of first-in-class cellular immunotherapies for cancer and immune disorders. The Company has established a leadership position in the clinical development and manufacture of universal, off-the-shelf cell products using its proprietary induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) product platform. The Company’s immuno-oncology product candidates include natural killer (NK) cell and T-cell cancer immunotherapies, which are designed to synergize with well-established cancer therapies, including immune checkpoint inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies, and to target tumor-associated antigens with chimeric antigen receptors (CARs). The Company’s immuno-regulatory product candidates include ProTmune™, a pharmacologically modulated, donor cell graft that is currently being evaluated in a Phase 2 clinical trial for the prevention of graft-versus-host disease, and a myeloid-derived suppressor cell immunotherapy for promoting immune tolerance in patients with immune disorders. Fate Therapeutics is headquartered in San Diego, CA. For more information, please visit www.fatetherapeutics.com.

Forward-Looking Statements
This release contains "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 including statements regarding the safety and therapeutic potential of the Company’s NK cell product candidates, including FT596 and FT516, its ongoing and planned clinical studies, and the expected clinical development plans for FT596 and FT516. These and any other forward-looking statements in this release are based on management's current expectations of future events and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially and adversely from those set forth in or implied by such forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, the risk that the Company may cease or delay planned development and clinical trials of any of its product candidates for a variety of reasons (including any delay in enrolling patients in current and planned clinical trials, requirements that may be imposed by regulatory authorities on the conduct of clinical trials or to support regulatory approval, difficulties in manufacturing or supplying the Company’s product candidates for clinical testing, or the occurrence of any adverse events or other negative results that may be observed during development), the risk that results observed in preclinical studies of its product candidates, including FT596 and FT516, may not be replicated in ongoing or future clinical trials or studies, and the risk that its product candidates may not produce therapeutic benefits or may cause other unanticipated adverse effects. For a discussion of other risks and uncertainties, and other important factors, any of which could cause the Company’s actual results to differ from those contained in the forward-looking statements, see the risks and uncertainties detailed in the Company’s periodic filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including but not limited to the Company’s most recently filed periodic report, and from time to time in the Company’s press releases and other investor communications. Fate Therapeutics is providing the information in this release as of this date and does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statements contained in this release as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Contact:
Christina Tartaglia
Stern Investor Relations, Inc.
212.362.1200
christina@sternir.com

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