HOUSTON, Sept. 01, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (NASDAQ:BLCM), a leader in developing novel, controllable cellular immunotherapies for cancers, and The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center today announced a global option and license agreement covering certain intellectual property and technology rights regarding Bellicum’s CaspaCIDe® (inducible caspase-9, or iC9) safety switch and related technologies, and the use of rimiducid, an agent used to activate the safety switch. Under this agreement, MD Anderson will have the option to incorporate CaspaCIDe into certain cellular therapy programs.
Bellicum’s CaspaCIDe safety switch may facilitate the use of cell therapies where cytokine release syndrome and neurotoxicities have been observed, in pursuit of novel targets with on-target/off-tumor safety concerns, and in conjunction with next-generation higher potency cell therapy constructs.
“We are excited to expand our CaspaCIDe agreement with MD Anderson to include a broader set of programs to benefit cancer patients,” said Rick Fair, President and CEO of Bellicum Pharmaceuticals. “We believe that our switch technology may enhance the benefit/risk profile of cell therapies. We intend to continue to pursue opportunities to expand its use via external collaborations with other leaders in the field.”
Upon exercise of each option – typically expected to be upon out-license of an MD Anderson program that incorporates iC9 – Bellicum will receive an upfront payment and will be entitled to a percentage of certain consideration paid to MD Anderson by the third party. Bellicum also will receive a single-digit-percent royalty on global sales of the product. Additional details of the financial arrangements are not disclosed. Bellicum and MD Anderson have agreed on the first two programs for development concurrent with the execution of the agreement. This agreement expands upon a previous one, which covers the use of CaspaCIDe in a specific MD Anderson cell therapy program.
“The unique inducible caspase-9 technology covered by this agreement has the potential to reduce the risk of serious adverse events associated with cellular therapies and to improve patient outcomes,” said Katy Rezvani, M.D., Ph.D., professor of Stem Cell Transplantation and Cellular Therapy at MD Anderson. “We have successfully applied the technology to existing cell therapies, and we look forward to the potential future applications made possible by this agreement.”
CaspaCIDe (inducible caspase-9, or iC9) is Bellicum’s chemical induction of dimerization (CID) safety switch technology designated to eliminate cells in the event of toxicity. The CaspaCIDe switch consists of the CID-binding domain coupled to the signaling domain of caspase-9, an enzyme that is part of the apoptotic pathway. Infusion of rimiducid is designed to trigger activation of this domain of caspase-9, which in turn leads to selective apoptosis of the CaspaCIDe-containing cells. In clinical studies, use of CaspaCIDe has resulted in clinical improvement in most patients as early as 24 hours after rimiducid administration. Further, because CaspaCIDe is designed to be permanently incorporated into Bellicum’s cellular therapies, the safety switch has the potential to be available for use when needed long after the initial therapy is delivered.
About Bellicum Pharmaceuticals
Bellicum is a clinical stage biopharmaceutical company striving to deliver cures through controllable cell therapies. The company’s next-generation product candidates are differentiated by powerful cell signaling technologies designed to produce more effective CAR-T cell therapies. Bellicum’s GoCAR-T® product candidates, BPX-601 and BPX-603, are designed to be more efficacious CAR-T cell products capable of overriding key immune inhibitory mechanisms. More information about Bellicum can be found at www.bellicum.com.
About MD Anderson
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston ranks as one of the world's most respected centers focused on cancer patient care, research, education and prevention. The institution’s sole mission is to end cancer for patients and their families around the world. MD Anderson is one of only 51 comprehensive cancer centers designated by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). MD Anderson is No. 1 for cancer in U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals” rankings. It has been named one of the nation’s top two hospitals for cancer since the rankings began in 1990 and has ranked first 16 times in the last 19 years. MD Anderson receives a cancer center support grant from the NCI of the National Institutes of Health (P30 CA016672).
This press release contains forward-looking statements for purposes of the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Bellicum may, in some cases, use terms such as “predicts,” “believes,” “potential,” “proposed,” “continue,” “designed,” “estimates,” “anticipates,” “expects,” “plans,” “intends,” “may,” “could,” “might,” “will,” “should” or other words that convey uncertainty of future events or outcomes to identify these forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements include statements regarding our intentions, beliefs, projections, outlook, analyses or current expectations concerning, among other things: the potential for Bellicum’s safety switch technology to improve the benefit/risk profile of cell therapies; the potential for expanded beneficial impact of the CaspaCIDe technology on patients enabled by the license agreement; the potential for Bellicum to earn future milestones or royalties under CaspaCID license agreements; Bellicum’s plans to make our technology more broadly available via external collaborations; and the potential useful life of the CaspaCIDe safety switch. Various factors may cause differences between Bellicum’s expectations and actual results as discussed in greater detail under the heading “Risk Factors” in Bellicum’s filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including without limitation Bellicum’s quarterly report on Form 10-Q for the three months ended June 30, 2021 and Bellicum’s annual report on Form 10-K the year ended December 31, 2020. Any forward-looking statements that Bellicum makes in this press release speak only as of the date of this press release. Bellicum assumes no obligation to update our forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, after the date of this press release.
Source: Bellicum Pharmaceuticals & The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Robert H. Uhl
Clayton Boldt, Ph.D.