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Portfolio – May 06, 2021

Athenex to Acquire Kuur Therapeutics to Expand Cell Therapy Development with Off-the-Shelf Engineered CAR-NKT Platform

  • Transformative, leading allogeneic NKT cell platform technology expands Athenex’s cell therapy development capability

  • Platform has broad applications based on transducing NKT cells with chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) and T cell receptors (TCRs) to target hematological and solid cancers, respectively

  • Total potential consideration of $185 million, comprising $70 million upfront primarily in Athenex common stock, and $115 million in development milestones

Buffalo, N.Y., May 4, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) – Athenex, Inc., (NASDAQ: ATNX), a global biopharmaceutical company dedicated to the discovery, development, and commercialization of novel therapies for the treatment of cancer and related conditions, led by its Orascovery platform, today announced that it has acquired Kuur Therapeutics, Inc., the leading developer of off-the-shelf CAR-NKT cell immunotherapies for the treatment of solid and hematological malignancies.

“We are excited to add Kuur Therapeutics and its innovative allogeneic CAR-NKT technology to the Athenex platform,” said Dr. Johnson Lau, Chief Executive Officer of Athenex. “Kuur’s innovative technology, combined with our TCR program, could propel us into a leadership position in cell therapy. This platform also has the potential to provide synergies with other assets in our pipeline.”

Dan Lang, President of Athenex Cell Therapy added, “We are thrilled to combine our TCR program with the groundbreaking NKT cell platform developed by Professor Leonid Metelitsa at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital. We are confident that we can continue to innovate on the NKT cell platform with Dr. Metelitsa to provide a solution that may address some of the known limitations associated with the first generation of cell therapy treatments focused on autologous CAR-T. We aspire to convert cancer into a chronic disease.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Athenex will pay $70 million upfront to Kuur shareholders and certain of its former employees and directors, comprised primarily of equity in Athenex common stock. Additionally, they are eligible to receive up to $115 million of milestone payments, which may be paid, at Athenex’s sole discretion, in either cash or additional Athenex common stock (or a combination of both).

Kevin S. Boyle, Sr., Chief Executive Officer of Kuur stated, “CAR-NKT cells offer a distinct set of advantages over other immune effector cells commonly used for cell therapy. We are excited that the leadership at Athenex recognizes the significant potential of this approach to provide effective treatment options for patients with both solid and hematological tumors. The development of these innovative therapies will be accelerated by combining Kuur’s experienced team with the extensive resources of Athenex.”

See full press release here.

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