Apr 28 2020

Fate Therapeutics Announces Preclinical Data Presentation of Novel CAR MICA/B Cell-based Cancer Immunotherapy Program at the 2020 ASGCT Annual Meeting

Program Incorporates New CAR Constructs Designed to Specifically Target the Pan-tumor Associated Stress Proteins MICA and MICB

Proprietary Binding Domains Shown to Overcome MICA/B Shedding, a Common Mechanism of Tumor Cell Escape Broadly Observed Across Solid Tumors

Exclusive License Agreement with Dana-Farber Cancer Institute covers MICA/B Binding Domains and iPSC-derived CAR MICA/B Cell Products

SAN DIEGO, April 28, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Fate Therapeutics, Inc. (NASDAQ: FATE), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the development of programmed cellular immunotherapies for cancer and immune disorders, today announced the presentation of a new off-the-shelf, iPSC-derived, chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-targeted cell-based cancer immunotherapy program at the American Society of Gene & Cell Therapy (ASGCT) 23rd Annual Meeting to be virtually hosted on May 12 – 15, 2020. The new preclinical program targets MHC class I related proteins A (MICA) and B (MICB), and is supported by an exclusive license from the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute to intellectual property covering novel antibody fragments binding MICA/B for iPSC-derived cellular therapeutics. MICA and MICB are stress proteins that are selectively expressed at high levels on many solid tumors. 

“MICA and MICB are emerging as exciting pan-cancer immunotherapy targets, and we are pleased that our engineered iPSC-derived CAR-MICA/B NK cells have shown potent anti-tumor activity in preclinical studies,” said Scott Wolchko, President and Chief Executive Officer of Fate Therapeutics. “Importantly, since the shedding of MICA/B is a common escape mechanism deployed by many tumors to evade immune cell recognition, we are encouraged that our novel CAR design, which uniquely targets the α3 domain of MICA/B, prevents protein shedding and promotes NK and T cell-mediated tumor immunity.”

While it is well known that tumor resistance to cytotoxic T cells is mediated by loss of MHC Class I expression, proteolytic shedding of the α1 and α2 domains of MICA/B expressed on tumor cells is a common mechanism of NK cell evasion. A recent publication in Science (DOI:10.1126/science.aao0505) by Kai W. Wucherpfennig, M.D., Ph.D., Chair of the Department of Cancer Immunology and Virology at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and co-leader of the Cancer Immunology Program at Dana-Farber / Harvard Cancer Center, demonstrated that antibody targeting of the MICA/B α3 domains specifically prevents MICA/B shedding and restores NK cell-mediated immunity. Additionally, in a more recent publication in Cancer Immunology Research (DOI: 10.1158/2326-6066.CIR-19-0483), Dr. Wucherpfennig also demonstrated that cancers with B2M and JAK1 inactivating mutations resulting in loss of MHC Class I expression can be effectively targeted with MICA/B α3 domain-specific antibodies to restore NK cell-mediated immunity against solid tumors resistant to cytotoxic T cells.

Using a clonal master induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) line previously engineered with an expression cassette introduced into the CD38 locus that encodes for a high-affinity, non-cleavable CD16 Fc receptor and an IL-15 receptor fusion, scientists from Fate Therapeutics introduced a second expression cassette encoding for the novel CAR MICA/B construct. In vitro differentiation of the clonal iPSC lines produced homogeneous NK cell populations with uniform expression of CAR MICA/B, hnCD16, and IL15RF, and without any expression of CD38. The iPSC-derived CAR NK cells displayed enhanced cytokine production and cytotoxicity against MICA/B positive tumor cells compared to non-engineered, iPSC-derived NK cells.

Other Company abstracts selected for presentation at ASGCT include the derivation of clonal master engineered iPSC lines for the Company’s FT576 product candidate, an off-the-shelf, multi-antigen targeted CAR-BCMA NK cell engineered with four anti-tumor modalities for the treatment of multiple myeloma; and a study of various expression systems for the generation, engineering and cryopreservation of clonal master engineered iPSC lines.

About MICA and MICB Proteins
The major histocompatibility complex (MHC) class I related proteins A (MICA) and B (MICB) are induced by cellular stress, damage or transformation, and the expression of MICA and MICB proteins has been reported for many tumor types. Cytotoxic lymphocytes, such as NK cells and CD8+ T cells, can detect and bind the membrane-distal α1 and α2 domains of MICA/B, activating a potent cytotoxic response. However, advanced cancer cells frequently evade immune cell recognition by proteolytic shedding of the α1 and α2 domains of MICA/B. The clinical importance of proteolytic shedding is reflected in the association of high serum concentrations of shed MICA/B with disease progression in many solid tumors. Several recent publications have shown that therapeutic antibodies targeting the membrane-proximal α3 domain strongly inhibited MICA/B shedding, resulting in a substantial increase in the cell surface density of MICA/B and restoration of NK cell-mediated tumor immunity. Therapeutic approaches aimed at targeting the α3 domain of MICA/B therefore represent a potentially promising novel strategy to overcome this prominent evasion mechanism as a means of restoring anti-tumor immunity.

About Fate Therapeutics’ iPSC Product Platform
The Company’s proprietary induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) product platform enables mass production of off-the-shelf, engineered, homogeneous cell products that can be administered with multiple doses to deliver more effective pharmacologic activity, including in combination with cycles of other cancer treatments. Human iPSCs possess the unique dual properties of unlimited self-renewal and differentiation potential into all cell types of the body. The Company’s first-of-kind approach involves engineering human iPSCs in a one-time genetic modification event and selecting a single engineered iPSC for maintenance as a clonal master iPSC line. Analogous to master cell lines used to manufacture biopharmaceutical drug products such as monoclonal antibodies, clonal master iPSC lines are a renewable source for manufacturing cell therapy products which are well-defined and uniform in composition, can be mass produced at significant scale in a cost-effective manner, and can be delivered off-the-shelf for patient treatment. As a result, the Company’s platform is uniquely capable of overcoming numerous limitations associated with the production of cell therapies using patient- or donor-sourced cells, which is logistically complex and expensive and is subject to batch-to-batch and cell-to-cell variability that can affect clinical safety and efficacy. Fate Therapeutics’ iPSC product platform is supported by an intellectual property portfolio of over 300 issued patents and 150 pending patent applications.

About Fate Therapeutics, Inc.
Fate Therapeutics is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the development of first-in-class cellular immunotherapies for cancer and immune disorders. The Company has established a leadership position in the clinical development and manufacture of universal, off-the-shelf cell products using its proprietary induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) product platform. The Company’s immuno-oncology product candidates include natural killer (NK) cell and T-cell cancer immunotherapies, which are designed to synergize with well-established cancer therapies, including immune checkpoint inhibitors and monoclonal antibodies, and to target tumor-associated antigens with chimeric antigen receptors (CARs). The Company’s immuno-regulatory product candidates include ProTmune™, a pharmacologically modulated, donor cell graft that is currently being evaluated in a Phase 2 clinical trial for the prevention of graft-versus-host disease, and a myeloid-derived suppressor cell immunotherapy for promoting immune tolerance in patients with immune disorders. Fate Therapeutics is headquartered in San Diego, CA. For more information, please visit www.fatetherapeutics.com.

Forward-Looking Statements
This release contains "forward-looking statements" within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 including statements regarding the advancement of and plans related to the Company’s NK and T-cell product candidates and preclinical research and development programs, and the scope and enforceability of the Company’s intellectual property portfolio. These and any other forward-looking statements in this release are based on management's current expectations of future events and are subject to a number of risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially and adversely from those set forth in or implied by such forward-looking statements. These risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, the risk that the Company may cease or delay preclinical or clinical development of any of its product candidates for a variety of reasons (including requirements that may be imposed by regulatory authorities on the initiation or conduct of clinical trials or to support regulatory approval, and any adverse events or other negative results that may be observed during preclinical or clinical development), the risk that results observed in preclinical studies of its product candidates may not be replicated in ongoing or future clinical trials or studies, the risk that its product candidates may not produce therapeutic benefits or may cause other unanticipated adverse effects, and the risk that any of the patents owed or licensed by the Company may be challenged and that such a challenge may be successful, resulting in loss of any such patent or loss or reduction in the scope of one or more of the claims of a challenged patent. For a discussion of other risks and uncertainties, and other important factors, any of which could cause the Company’s actual results to differ from those contained in the forward-looking statements, see the risks and uncertainties detailed in the Company’s periodic filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including but not limited to the Company’s most recently filed periodic report, and from time to time in the Company’s press releases and other investor communications. Fate Therapeutics is providing the information in this release as of this date and does not undertake any obligation to update any forward-looking statements contained in this release as a result of new information, future events or otherwise.

Christina Tartaglia
Stern Investor Relations, Inc.

Fate Therapeutics.jpg

Source: Fate Therapeutics, Inc.