Amgen is sinking $60 million upfront into a research and licensing deal to develop new immunotherapies for cancer.

The strategic alliance will see the groups develop and commercialise new Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cell immunotherapies by combining Amgen’s cancer targets with Kite's engineered autologous cell therapy (eACT) platform. 

Under the deal, Kite is also to provide research and development/manufacturing capabilities and expertise, and will carry out all preclinical research and cell manufacturing/processing through Investigational New Drug (IND) filing. At this point, each company takes on responsibility for clinical development and commercialisation of their respective CAR therapeutic candidates.

On the financial side, Kite gets the upfront $60 million from Amgen as well as cash for R&D costs through IND filing, and it is also eligible for up to $525 million in milestone payments per Amgen programme, plus tiered high single- to double-digit royalties for sales and the license of its intellectual property for CAR T cell products. Amgen stands to gain up to $525 million in milestone payments per Kite program, plus tiered single-digit sales royalties. Further terms were not disclosed.

“We believe that the therapeutic candidates resulting from the collaboration will have the potential to dramatically transform CAR approaches and to become some of the most powerful therapies for the treatment of cancer,” said Kite’s chief executive Arie Belldegrun, commenting on the partnership’s potential.