CDMO Kincell inks CAR-T supply pact with Imugene, pays $6M for its North Carolina manufacturing site and staff

CDMO Kincell Bio and immuno-oncology biotech Imugene are making some exchanges under a new strategic partnership.

For $6 million over three years of upfront and milestone-driven payments, Kincell will take on Imugene’s North Carolina cell manufacturing site and the associated staffers.

The duo further struck a supply pact, making Kincell responsible for manufacturing Imugene’s CAR-T candidate azer-cel for ongoing clinical trials, the companies said in a press release.

While Kincell gets a new 32,800-square-foot site in Research Triangle Park (RTP), Imugene will be able to save $32 million through staff cost cuts, manufacturing efficiencies and overhead savings over the next three years.  

The asset sale and staffer transfer—plus the azer-cel outsourcing arrangement—will slash Imugene’s total head count by 50% and extend its cash runway through 2026, the biotech said.

“This partnership allows us to focus on our key capabilities, namely the development of novel cancer treatments,” Imugene’s CEO Leslie Chong said in a statement. “With the transaction, we look forward to continuing to work with many of our former manufacturing colleagues in a new relationship as our contract development and manufacturing organization partner.”

The company describes azer-cel as a “potential first in class” allogeneic CAR-T candidate for diffuse large B-cell lymphoma patients who have relapsed following CAR-T therapy.

As for Kincell, the buy “accelerates our ability to expand our service offerings for cell therapy developers,” CEO Bruce Thompson added.

The RTP site was designed with the flexibility to allow for future expansions. Kincell plans to “evolve” the plant’s capabilities to manufacture a range of autologous and allogenic products, it said.