Gilead Sciences’ subsidiary Kite has signed a research collaboration and licence agreement with biotechnology company HiFiBiO Therapeutics to help develop new cancer therapies.

Kite and HiFiBiO will primarily develop a technology to enable the discovery of neoantigen-reactive T cell receptors (TCRs) for the potential treatment of different cancer types.

The partners will leverage HiFiBiO’s single-cell technology platform to devise a high-throughput technique for the in-depth screening of TCR repertoires from patient samples.

This approach is expected to potentially allow identification of shared antigen and neoantigen TCRs for use in adoptive cellular treatments.

As neoantigens result from tumour-specific mutations unique to a patient’s cancer, they have the potential for targeted anti-tumour activity.

Gilead Oncology Therapeutics executive vice-president Alessandro Riva said: “Neoantigen-based cell therapy is a very exciting, yet complex, area of research that has the potential to transform the way we treat many solid tumours.

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“This collaboration with HiFiBiO will build upon our existing capabilities focused on discovering cell therapies which target patient-specific tumour neoantigens.”

“We are excited about this collaboration with HiFiBiO, which will build upon our existing capabilities focused on discovering cell therapies which target patient-specific tumour neoantigens.”

As part of the agreement, HiFiBiO will receive an upfront payment of $10m and potential other payments depending on select research milestones.

The deal will provide Kite with an exclusive option to licence HiFiBiO’s platform to screen T cell repertoires. Kite can also use the platform to identify TCRs for use in TCR engineered T cell cancer therapies and will make a corresponding payment to HiFiBiO.

HiFiBiO Therapeutics president and CEO Liang Schweizer said: “We are proud that our proprietary single cell technology platform, which is utilised to support the rapid progression of our novel antibody therapeutics pipeline, will now also be implemented by Kite for the development of novel cell therapies targeting neoantigens.”