Kite sells its pharmaceutical platform and manufacturing plant to BioNTech

Photo by Christiaan Cruz

Santa Monica-based biopharmaceutical company Kite will sell one of its drug platforms and a manufacturing facility in Maryland to BioNTech under a deal the two companies announced on July 19.

BioNTech, a biotechnology company based in Mainz, Germany, is best known for its partnership with Pfizer Inc. which generated one of two widely used Covid mRNA vaccines in the United States and several other countries.

Kite, which was founded by serial biotech entrepreneur Arie Belldegrun, was purchased in 2017 by Foster City-based Gilead Sciences Inc. for $ 11.9 billion.

Financial terms of the transaction between Kite and BioNTech were not disclosed; nor was a closing date.

The agreement provides for BioNTech to acquire Kite’s solid tumor antigen T cell receptor drug platform, as well as a clinical manufacturing facility in Gaithersburg, Md., For a one-time upfront price, not disclosed. This facility will provide production capacity to support clinical trials in the United States and complement BioNTech’s existing cell therapy manufacturing facility in Idar-Oberstein, Germany.

Under the agreement, all Kite employees at the Gaithersburg plant will be offered employment with BioNTech prior to the closing date.

BioNTech said in the announcement that it plans to invest more in the site, including hiring additional staff.

The deal does not include Kite’s new manufacturing facility in Frederick, Md., For the commercial production of its CAR T cell immunotherapies.

Kite CEO Christi Shaw said in the announcement that the deal allows the company to focus more on these CAR T cell therapies.

“In order to serve more patients who need cell therapy today, Kite is growing rapidly both through its global expansion and the search for new indications for our existing approved CAR T cell therapies. This transaction will allow us to focus our energies and investments on accelerating the reach of our current CAR T cell therapies and pipeline over the medium term, ”said Shaw.

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