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Bellicum Pharmaceuticals Announces Commercial Licensing of Ariad’s Argent™ Cell-Signaling Regulation Technology for Development of New Cancer Therapies
Baylor College of Medicine Spin-out Company Focuses on Therapeutic Vaccines for the Treatment of Cancer
Houston, TX, October 11, 2006 – Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, Inc. has announced a non-exclusive, royalty-bearing licensing agreement with ARIAD Pharmaceuticals Inc. (Nasdaq:ARIA) for its ARGENT™ cell-signaling regulation technology. ARIAD will have an equity stake in Bellicum and will receive additional payments. Bellicum also may be granted exclusive licenses in certain product applications based on its achievement of development, regulatory and commercial milestones. The Bellicum product candidates will use ARIAD’s small molecule dimerizer drug, AP1903, which already has successfully completed a Phase 1 clinical trial.
Bellicum Pharmaceuticals, Inc. is focused on the development of next generation therapeutic vaccines and other immunotherapeutic approaches for the treatment of cancer. Bellicum’s BP-GMAX-CD1 lead product candidate is a novel dendritic cell vaccine to treat prostate cancer. This vaccine incorporates an AP1903-activated CD40 gene, which acts as a pharmacologically regulated switch to boost the potency and enhance the durability of the anti-cancer immune response (see, Hanks, et al, Nature Medicine2005, 11:130). “We are delighted that ARIAD has selected Bellicum to advance the dimerizer technology”, stated Bellicum CEO Tom Farrell. “We have assembled a compelling set of preclinical data, and completion of this license now allows us to move rapidly to clinical development of our first cancer vaccine.”
In a widely reported study (Morgan, et al, Science 10.1126/science.1129003, published online 31 August 2006), researchers at the National Cancer Institute reported the cure of two advanced melanoma patients using a genetically modified autologous vaccine. According to Bellicum Founder and Baylor Prostate Center Director Kevin Slawin, M.D., “Dr. Rosenberg’s work has demonstrated proof of principle that genetically modified autologous vaccines, such as those being developed by Bellicum, can lead to the complete eradication of even advanced cancers, an achievement rarely seen with more conventional therapies, whose benefits are often more incremental”.
David M. Spencer, Ph.D., Bellicum’s Co-Founder and Chief Scientific Officer, and Associate Professor of Immunology, Baylor College of Medicine, co-invented the dimerizer technology while a student in Professor Gerald R. Crabtree’s lab at Stanford University. He is also the lead author of the seminal dimerizer paper (Spencer, et al, Science 1993, 262, 1019). “It is especially gratifying to see my earlier work at Stanford come full-circle with the opportunity to apply the dimerizer technology to our work here at Bellicum,” stated Spencer.
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