I’ve been making some changes in my portfolio, and as they were reasonably major I will go ahead and let you know about them before the end of the month. As you know, I had taken a small position in KITE and then tiny positions in three other CAR-T companies to be sure of being aware of a winner. Well, after the recommendation for approval for Novartis, it became pretty sure that Kite would be approved at about the same time, and that Kite was clearly ahead in pipeline and preparation. My other three (CLLS, BLUE, and ZIOP), all had good and bad points, but ZIOP was running out of money, and CLLS announced an IPO of their agricultural subsidiary at $15 to $18, but ended up having to IPO at $8, which didn’t bring in much money. They were all in the early study stage (Stage 1).
Then today, along came this press release from KITE (as edited by me):
“Durable complete remissions up to 56+ months in patients with chemorefractory aggressive Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma (NHL) after Anti-CD19 CAR T-Cell Therapy at the National Cancer Institute
? Durable complete remissions continued after recovery of normal B Cells
? Anti-CD19 CAR T-cell therapy can be curative!
This follows previously published data in the February 2015 issue of the Journal of Clinical Oncology in which nine patients with chemorefractory aggressive NHL were treated with a single dose of anti-CD19 CAR T cells. Seven of the 9 patients were evaluable for response. Complete remissions (CR) were observed in 5 of the 7 evaluable patients. Four of the 5 complete remissions are ongoing from 38 to 56+ months after treatment.
There were no chronic toxicities attributable to CAR T cells except B-cell aplasia and hypogammaglobulinemia. Importantly, 3 of 4 patients in ongoing CR had recovery of normal polyclonal B cells, showing that durable completer remissions can be maintained in the absence of continued activity of anti-CD19 CAR T cells.
We are encouraged to see durable CRs ongoing for more than 3 years, which raises a possibility of cure, from a single infusion of anti-CD19 CAR T cells in patients with chemorefractory DLBCL, a population that previously had no curative treatment options.
This study helps us to understand the long-term potential for this anti-CD19 CAR T cell therapy (axicabtagene ciloleucel) in the larger aggressive NHL patient population.”
In response to that remarkable press release, I decided I had my winner. I wasn’t interested in trailing around a number of companies who weren’t going to have commercial products until 2020 or 2022 or 2024, so I sold out of my positions in the other three CAR-T companies, and sold out of my small position in Hortonworks and invested a significant portion of the funds in increasing my KITE position. I had already sold out of my tiny position in MTNB after their disastrous study report. So now my Kite position is my only biopharma, and it’s about a half position at roughly 3.8% or so.
Hope this helps.