26 Apr 2023

Kiwi cancer therapy developers sign deal with global pharma giant

2:46 pm on 26 April 2023
Wellington Zhaotai Therapies executive director Peter Lai.

Wellington Zhaotai Therapies executive director Peter Lai. Photo: Wellington Zhaotai Therapies / Supplied

Developers of a New Zealand cancer therapy have inked a multimillion-dollar deal with a global drug giant, aiming to bring the technology closer to market.

Wellington Zhaotai Therapies, a joint venture between the Malaghan Institute of Medical Research and Hunan Zhaotai Medical Group, has been trialling CAR T-cell technology, where a patient's immune cells are genetically modified to recognise and attack their cancer cells, since 2019.

The new deal with Dr Reddy's Laboratories will give the India-based pharmaceuticals company exclusive licence to trial and commercialise the construct.

Wellington Zhaotai Therapies executive director Peter Lai said the deal also signified a strategic partnership that could potentially extend to other countries and cell therapies.

"This validates that the technology we've developed is attractive to the pharmaceutical industry, and that the safety and efficacy clinical data generated to date by Wellington Zhaotai Therapies has given Dr. Reddy's confidence in our CAR T-cell product."

Lai said the deal also reflected the successful partnership and hard work of the two research teams, based in New Zealand and China.

"To develop a product through clinical trials to global licensing is no mean feat.

"This is a significant milestone for a New Zealand biotech."

Lai said the results from the therapy's first safety trial would be published later this year.

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