Fresh off a data presentation of technology it had originally developed at a major cancer conference, a Chinese company that develops cell therapies has made its big debut on a U.S. stock market.
Nanjing-based Legend Biotech said Friday that it had raised $423.8 million in its initial public offering on the Nasdaq, under the stock ticker symbol LEGN. The company initially aimed for a $100 million IPO last month. Shares of the company were scheduled to begin trading on the Nasdaq Global Select Market on Friday.
Legend was the original developer of a CAR-T cell therapy for multiple myeloma that works by targeting the cell-surface antigen BCMA, which was in-licensed by Johnson & Johnson’s biotech subsidiary and, with a different manufacturing process, is now being developed under the name JNJ-4528.
Data from CARTITUDE-1, J&J’s Phase Ib/II study of JNJ-4528, were presented in an oral session of the American Society of Clinical Oncology’s 2020 annual meeting, which took place virtually due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The data showed that patients – who were heavily pretreated, with a median five prior lines of therapy – achieved a median overall response rate of 100% in 29 patients, of whom 97% achieved a very good partial response, with 86% achieving a stringent complete response.
In terms of the CAR-T’s safety profile, cytokine release syndrome and neurological toxicity occurred in 93% and 10%, respectively, but serious or worse events occurred in only 7% and 3% of patients. The therapy’s favorable toxicity profile has led to an interest in administering it on an outpatient basis, meaning that patients could potentially leave the clinic after infusion, returning to it if they showed signs of serious CRS or neurological events. However, experts have pointed out that equipping CAR-T treatment centers for outpatient use comes with a number of challenges in terms of setting up the needed infrastructure and training staff.
The ASCO meeting saw the presentation of other CAR-Ts for multiple myeloma, which also target BCMA, namely orvacabtagene autoleucel, developed by Bristol-Myers Squibb, and idecabtagene vicleucel, developed under a partnership between BMS and bluebird bio.
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