MD Anderson and Bellicum announce additional license agreement for use of CaspaCIDe® safety switch

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, Inc. 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.”