J&J inks Fate deal to move into allogeneic CAR therapies 

Johnson & Johnson committed to up to $3 billion in milestones to land a deal with Fate Therapeutics. (Raysonho/CC0)

Johnson & Johnson is paying Fate Therapeutics $50 million upfront to collaborate on up to four CAR NK and CAR-T cell therapies. The deal, which features $3 billion in milestones, tasks Fate with using its induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) platform to develop drugs based on four targets picked out by J&J.

Fate’s work on iPSCs has gained new resonance in recent years as efforts to develop allogeneic cell therapies have revealed the need for renewable sources of cells. In iPSCs, Fate has access to a source of cells that could fit the bill, leading it to advance a pipeline of off-the-shelf therapies spearheaded by clinical-phase NK candidate FT500 and enter into a collaboration with Ono Pharmaceutical.

Now, Fate has added J&J to its list of collaborators. J&J is paying $50 million upfront and making a $50 million equity investment, at almost 50% above the market rate, to get Fate to apply its iPSC platform to up to four tumor-associated antigen targets.

Sponsored by BHE

[Webinar] State of Data Analytics and Machine Learning in the Life Sciences Industry: 2020 Benchmarking Survey

Thursday, June 25, 2020 | 2:00pm ET | 11:00am PT

Join us Thursday, June 25th for a look at the current state of analytics in the life sciences industry. We will present the results from our industry survey with FiercePharma on how 100 of your peers are leveraging data analytics to respond to today’s challenges and generate timely, high value insights.

J&J is choosing the targets and will bankroll Fate’s work to develop cell therapies against them. Fate will collaborate with J&J on CAR NK and CAR-T cell candidates against the targets up to the IND filing. At that point, J&J will have the option to pick up the exclusive rights to the prospects. 

As the assets advance, J&J will be on the hook for up to $1.8 billion in development and regulatory milestones, with up to $1.2 billion in commercial milestones to follow if the drugs come to market. Fate has the option to co-commercialize the drugs in the U.S. and will receive double-digit royalties on worldwide commercial sales.

In return for the outlay, J&J is adding another piece to its emerging cell therapy portfolio. J&J moved into the CAR-T space by picking up rights to Legend Biotech’s anti-BCMA candidate, known within the Big Pharma as JNJ-4528. Having achieved a 69% complete response rate in a phase 1b/2 multiple myeloma trial, the CAR-T is making its way toward a date with U.S. and European regulators. 

The Fate deal represents a smaller bet for J&J, at least for now, although the sums involved were still big enough to drive the share price of the biotech up more than 20% in after-hours trading. For Fate, the deal provides it with a source of upfront and ongoing income while allowing it to retain control of its existing assets. The nature of Fate’s platform means there is also scope to strike deals with other companies, combining their targets with its iPSCs to create new allogeneic cell therapies. 

Suggested Articles

After delivering a "positive surprise" in December, Biogen is painting a fuller picture of its lupus drug.

A new CRISPR technique neutralizes SARS-CoV-2 by scrambling the virus' genetic code. It could prove useful for fighting other viruses, like influenza.

The deal, which follows a bidding war with AcelRx, gives Melinta another approved antibiotic and potentially complementary R&D expertise.