AbelZeta Pharma and AstraZeneca have signed an agreement to jointly develop the autologous, armoured GPC3-targeting chimeric antigen receptor T Cells (CAR-T) therapy, C-CAR031, to treat hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). 

The companies did not disclose the financial terms of the deal.

C-CAR031 is designed by AstraZeneca leveraging its growth factor-beta receptor II (TGFβRII) dominant negative armouring discovery platform. 

AbelZeta manufactures the cell therapy in China.

AbelZeta is eligible to receive an upfront payment from AstraZeneca for development and marketing, followed by milestone and royalty payments for C-CAR031’s global development. 

According to findings from an investigator-initiated trial assessing the initial efficacy, safety, pharmacokinetics (PK) and pharmacodynamics (PD) of C-CAR031 in China, the product offered encouraging anti-tumour activity and strong PK/PD profiles in advanced HCC patients.

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AstraZeneca oncology research and development cell therapy head and vice-president Mark Cobbold stated: “This agreement with AbelZeta accelerates the investigation of our innovative armouring CAR-T platform in solid tumours and advances our ambition to bring novel cell therapies to more people living with hard-to-treat cancers.”

AbelZeta develops cell-based therapeutic products and therapies that aid the immune system in fighting haematological malignancies, solid tumours, inflammatory diseases and immunological ailments. 

Its pipeline comprises CAR-T and tumour-infiltrating lymphocyte therapies.

AbelZeta chairman and CEO Tony Liu stated: “We are pleased to collaborate with AstraZeneca in pursuing this novel CAR-T treatment for solid tumours. 

“The treatment of advanced HCC has always been a great challenge, and I believe this CAR-T therapy has the potential to redefine therapeutic paradigms in HCC and other GPC3-expressing solid tumours.”

In November 2023, AstraZeneca launched a new digital health solutions business, Evenova, within the company to speed up innovation in the life sciences sector.

Cell & Gene Therapy coverage on Pharmaceutical Technology is supported by Cytiva.

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