J&J dives into the hands of Fate


Johnson & Johnson's deal with Fate Therapeutics, signed yesterday, again underlines the importance of securing a renewable cell source for allogeneic cell therapies. Initial values are not colossal, with J&J paying $50m up front and making a $50m equity investment at a 47% premium, but milestone biodollars come in at around $3bn. J&J will contribute up to four antigen-binding domains, and Fate will carry out preclinical work on induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived Car-NK and Car-T candidates. Fate opened up 17% this morning. The need to secure cell supply is pressing: some first-generation allogeneic players are hitting production bottlenecks as they struggle with cells derived from healthy donors that tend to be heterogeneous and of variable quality. J&J buying into Fate follows Allogene's deal with Notch over iPSC cell supply last November, and others will likely need to follow suit. 

Selected allogeneic cell therapy players
Company Cell source Mature cells desired
Cellectis/Allogene Healthy donors T cells
Poseida Healthy donors T (SCM) cells
Precision Biosciences Healthy donors T (N/SCM & CM) cells
Gilead/UCLA "Artificial thymic organoid", iPSC, feeder cells T cells
Notch/Allogene iPSC, cell-free T cells
Fate Therapeutics/J&J iPSC, feeder cells NK cells & T cells
Kiadis/Cytosen Universal adult donor, no tumour cells in final product NK cells
Nkarta Adult donor, feeder cells NK cells
Source: company presentations.

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