Pfizer CEO: Our CAR-T development method could give us a leg up over Kite, Juno, Novartis
- Pfizer—which promised that its combined pipeline with Allergan is being underestimated during the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference in San Francisco this week—is indulging in some big talk surrounding its CAR-T ambitions.
- The pharma giant believes that its approach to CAR-T cancer treatments with its partner Cellectis, a French biotech, will give it a big advantage over other players in the space who are farther along in the development process.
- The potential advantage rests on a different method of creating the re-engineered T-cells that are used to attack cancerous cells in CAR-T which could prove far less expensive.
Last year, Pfizer struck its deal with Cellectis, which made major headlines for apparently clearing a terminally ill baby girl's leukemia with its "universal CAR-T" therapy. And Pfizer believes that universal nature will give it a major manufacturing advantage even over competitors in this space including Juno, Kite, and Novartis.
While those latter firms' therapies require the extraction of individual patient's T-cells (which are then re-engineered to fight tumors), the Pfizer/Cellectis therapy relies on just one donor whose cells can be used to treat many more (potentially thousands) of patients.
"None of the other companies have that capability," said Pfizer chief Ian Read at JPM. "Therefore they could not go that route."
That's significant considering that the extraction process could drive CAR-T therapy prices to nearly $500,000 per round. It's far too early to tell whether Pfizer would pass any manufacturing savings onto customers—but at the very least, it may be able to enjoy those savings for itself and drive down its manufacturing costs in a red-hot cancer treatment space.