Bayer partners with Atara to develop CAR T-cell therapies for solid tumours

Bayer entered into a global licence agreement with Atara Biotherapeutics to develop mesothelin-directed CAR T-cell therapies for the treatment of solid tumours, the companies announced Monday. The deal includes Atara's development candidate ATA3271, an armoured allogeneic T-cell immunotherapy, along with an autologous version dubbed ATA2271, for high mesothelin-expressing tumours.

Wolfram Carius, head of Bayer's recently-established cell and gene therapy unit, called the transaction "a fundamental element" of its strategy in this field. Bayer noted that the licensed technology leverages Atara's Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) T-cell platform combined with CAR T technologies targeting mesothelin to improve efficacy, persistence, safety and durability of response.

Under the agreed terms, Atara will lead investigational new drug (IND)-enabling studies and process development for ATA3271, while Bayer will be responsible for submitting the IND and handling subsequent development and commercialisation. Further, Atara will continue to be responsible for the ongoing Phase I study of ATA2271, which was initiated recently following FDA clearance of an IND filing. In addition, Atara will provide translational and clinical manufacturing services to be reimbursed by Bayer.

As part of the deal, Bayer will make an upfront payment of $60 million to Atara, with the latter eligible to receive further milestones totalling $610 million, as well as tiered royalties up to low double-digit percentage of net sales. The companies added that for a limited period of time, Bayer has a non-exclusive right to negotiate a license for additional Atara CAR T product candidates.

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