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AbelZeta Pharma to co-develop novel Glypican 3 (GPC3) armored CAR-T therapy with AstraZeneca in China

AbelZeta Pharma, a global clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of innovative cell therapies for cancer, inflammatory and immunological diseases, has announced an agreement with AstraZeneca to co-develop C-CAR031, an autologous, armored GPC3-targeting chimeric antigen receptor T Cells (CAR-T) therapy, in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).

C-CAR031 is based on a novel GPC3-targeting CART (AZD5851) designed by AstraZeneca using their transforming growth factor-beta receptor II (TGFβRII) dominant negative armoring discovery platform, and is manufactured by AbelZeta in China.

HCC is one of the most common cancers and major causes of cancer deaths in China, with 466,000 new cases each year, accounting for about 50% of the total global new cases. Approximately 45% of deaths worldwide from HCC occur in greater China.

Under the terms of the agreement, AbelZeta will receive an upfront payment from AstraZeneca for the codevelopment and commercialization of C-CAR031 in China. AbelZeta is also eligible to receive milestone payments and royalties for the global development of AZD5851, which is being solely developed, manufactured and commercialized by AstraZeneca outside of China.

At AACR 2023, the company presented preliminary safety, efficacy, pharmacokinetics (PK) and pharmacodynamic (PD) data from an investigator-initiated trial (IIT) in China showing promising anti-tumor activity and robust PK/PD profiles for C-CAR031 in patients with advanced HCC.

“We are pleased to collaborate with AstraZeneca in pursuing this novel CAR-T treatment for solid tumors,” said Tony (Bizuo) Liu, Chairman and CEO of AbelZeta. “The treatment of advanced HCC has always been a great challenge, and I believe this CAR-T therapy has the potential to redefine therapeutic paradigms in HCC and other GPC3-expressing solid tumors.”

Mark Cobbold, Vice President, Head Cell Therapy, Oncology R&D, AstraZeneca said: “This agreement with AbelZeta accelerates the investigation of our innovative armoring CAR-T platform in solid tumors and advances our ambition to bring novel cell therapies to more people living with hard-to-treat cancers.”


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