Senti, Celest take liver cancer cell therapy to China in $156M biobucks deal

Senti Biosciences’ solid tumor drug will be tested in an early-stage trial in China next year through a $156 million biobucks deal with Shanghai-based Celest Therapeutics.

SENTI-301A is an off-the-shelf CAR-natural killer cell therapy for GPC3 expressing tumors derived from healthy donor cells. The therapy was shown in preclinical testing to kill relevant tumor cells.

Celest has agree to pay up to $156 million in milestones to Senti to bring SENTI-301A to a clinical trial in China, according to a Monday release. The study is set to get underway in the first half of 2024. Celest will lead clinical development, operations and manufacturing, while Senti provides technical support.

Enrollment in the dose-finding study will kick off with nine patients in a pilot trial in mainland China, with the first half of patients entering in the first half of the year. The study will focus on patients with advanced GPC3-expressing hepatocellular carcinoma in two dose cohorts. The endpoints will focus on safety, adverse events, dose-limiting toxicities and an efficacy analysies for liver cancer.

Celest and Senti have also included an option to expand clinical development to Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan. Senti will hang on to commercialization rights outside of those regions.

Besides the milestones, Senti could receive royalties, but other financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.