Kite takes stake in company with option to buy the gamma delta T-cell receptor (TCR) startup.

Dutch company Gadeta first made news in 2016 when it raised $8.1 million in series A funding to support efforts to place gamma delta (γδ) receptors into alpha beta T cells, to create cell therapies that can use the ability of γδ receptors to target hematological and solid tumors. The company recently made news for the second time: Gilead’s Kite Pharma has taken a stake in Gadeta, committed to milestones tied to the progress of various oncology candidates and gained an exclusive option to buy the firm. 

Kite has initially taken an equity stake in Gadeta and committed to fund an R&D collaboration. If the R&D program progresses successfully, Kite will make milestone payments to Gadeta. If certain milestones are achieved, Kite will then have the option to but more equity in the company and eventually acquire the firm outright.

This deal follows a number of others that Kite has made since being purchased by Gilead. It bought preclinical cell engineering startup Cell Design Labs, paying $175 million upfront and committing to pay up to $322 million in milestone payments. Kite also paid Sangamo Therapeutics $150 million for use of its zinc finger nuclease platform, partnered with Pfizer on a combination trial, expanded its collaboration with the National Cancer Institute and invested in new facilities.

All of these activities are intended to ensure that Gilead retains its leading position in CAR-T cell therapies. It does have competition, though, including in the gamma-delta T cell space. Takeda, for instance, has secured the option to buy startup GammaDelta Therapeutics, which is developing technology for the extraction and amplification of tissue-resident gamma-delta T cells. Other companies operating in the γδ T cell field include ImCheck Therapeutics and Lava Therapeutics.