Atara Bio Complements its Cytotoxic T-cell Programs to Develop Potential Additional Treatments for Certain Cancers and Autoimmune Disorders
South San Francisco, CA and Brisbane, Australia – Atara Biotherapeutics, Inc. (Nasdaq: ATRA), a biopharmaceutical company with a focus on developing meaningful therapies for patients with unmet medical needs in diseases that have seen limited therapeutic innovation, and QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute, based in Brisbane, Australia (QIMR Berghofer), today announced that they have entered into exclusive license and research agreements. Under the terms of the agreements, Atara Bio obtained an exclusive, worldwide license to develop and commercialize allogeneic, or “off-the-shelf”, cytotoxic T-lymphocytes (CTLs) directed against multiple epitopes of the Epstein-Barr virus (EBVpoly) and multiple epitopes of the cytomegalovirus (CMVpoly) utilizing technology developed by QIMR Berghofer. The QIMR Berghofer technology complements Atara Bio’s ongoing CTL development efforts by selectively targeting certain epitopes and antigens. Initial applications for which the technology may be appropriate include the treatment of certain cancers such as gastric cancer, nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) and glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) and certain autoimmune disorders such as multiple sclerosis (MS).
“We are encouraged by the clinical safety and initial efficacy generated by QIMR Berghofer’s autologous CTL therapy programs. We are excited to partner with QIMR Berghofer to develop the technology into off-the-shelf therapies,” said Christopher Haqq, Chief Medical Officer for Atara Bio. “Our partnership with QIMR Berghofer enables Atara to potentially target broader indications with the EBVpoly-CTL and CMVpoly-CTL programs.”
“This collaboration brings together the expertise and resources needed to pursue the research and development of off-the-shelf CTL products in multiple cancers and autoimmune disorders,” said Professor Rajiv Khanna, lead researcher on these projects and Coordinator of QIMR Berghofer’s Centre for Immunotherapy and Vaccine Development. “I am very excited about the opportunity to work with the Atara team to bring these new developments to patients.”
QIMR Berghofer Director and CEO Professor Frank Gannon said, “The exclusive license and research agreements with Atara Bio provide an exciting opportunity for global expansion of QIMR Berghofer’s CTL therapy program.”
In consideration for the exclusive license, QIMR Berghofer will receive an upfront payment and will receive additional payments based on achievement of certain development, regulatory and sales-related milestones, as well as royalty payments based on future sales, if any. Under the license agreement, Atara Bio also has the ability to exercise an option to exclusively license certain clinical stage autologous CTL therapy programs.
About Atara Biotherapeutics, Inc.
Atara Biotherapeutics, Inc. is a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing innovative therapies for patients with debilitating diseases. Atara Bio’s programs include molecularly targeted product candidates and T-cell product candidates. Molecularly targeted product candidates include PINTA 745, STM 434 and ATA 842. These product candidates target myostatin and activin, members of the TGF-beta family of proteins, and have demonstrated the potential to have therapeutic benefit in a number of clinical indications. T-cell product candidates include EBV-CTL, CMV-CTL and WT1-CTL.
About QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute
The QIMR Berghofer Medical Research Institute is a world leading translational research institute focused on cancer, infectious diseases, mental health and a range of complex disorders. Working in close collaboration with clinicians and other research institutes, our aim is to improve health by developing new diagnostics, better treatments and prevention strategies. The Institute’s GMP facility, QGen Cell Therapeutics, is one of the largest facilities in Australia for the manufacture of cell therapies. For more information about QIMR Berghofer, visit www.qimrberghofer.edu.au.
This press release contains or may imply “forward-looking statements” within the meaning of Section 27A of the Securities Act of 1933 and Section 21E of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Because such statements deal with future events and are based on Atara Bio’s current expectations, they are subject to various risks and uncertainties and actual results, performance or achievements of Atara Bio could differ materially from those described in or implied by the statements in this press release. For example, forward-looking statements include statements regarding: plans to develop allogeneic EBVpoly-CTLs to treat NPC, secondary progressive MS, gastric cancer and CMVpoly-CTLs to treat GBM. These forward-looking statements are subject to other risks and uncertainties, including those discussed under the heading “Risk Factors” in Atara Bio’s quarterly report on Form 10-Q filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on August 6, 2015, including the documents incorporated by reference therein, and subsequent filings with the SEC. Except as otherwise required by law, Atara Bio disclaims any intention or obligation to update or revise any forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date hereof, whether as a result of new information, future events or circumstances or otherwise.