Gilead’s oncology arm Kite Pharma announced an expansion of its deal with Arcellx that will give Kite access to ACLX-001, a BCMA-targeted CAR-T cell therapy for multiple myeloma. 

Under the deal announced Wednesday, Kite will pay Arcellx $285 million.

BCMA, or B-cell maturation antigen, is a cell surface antigen found in multiple myeloma. Targeting BCMA is the design of ACLX-001, as well as CART-ddBCMA, another CAR-T drug developed by Arcellx in collaboration with Kite.

Cindy Perettie, EVP of Kite, said in a statement that the deal was borne out of the company’s desire to deepen its relationship with Arcellx in order to progress CART-ddBCMA and bolster its pipeline in treating multiple myeloma, as well as access opportunities in lymphoma.

“We are pleased to see the momentum with the CART-ddBCMA multiple myeloma program, enabling Kite to enter an area of high unmet need and bring a new, potentially best-in-class cell therapy to patients,” Perettie stated. “In expanding our strategic partnership with Arcellx, we are building upon the established synergy between Arcellx’s platform technologies and Kite’s industry-leading position in CAR-T manufacturing and commercialization.”

The relationship between the two harkens back to the end of 2022, when the two struck a deal worth $225 million up front, to co-develop and co-commercialize CART-ddBCMA, Arcellx’s lead candidate at the time. 

Arcellx CEO Rami Elghandour said at the time that the collaboration would mark a significant achievement for the myeloma field and Arcellx.

In the latest announcement, Elghandour noted that the company was encouraged with how the partnership is rapidly progressing the alignment across both teams.

“Helping as many cancer patients as possible serves as the core of our collaboration,” Elghandour said in a statement. “[W]e believe that our novel synthetic binder, the D-Domain, underscores the potential to engineer a new class of CAR-T therapies.”

The path forward is not without potential challenges related to developing the treatments.

Earlier this summer, the Food and Drug Administration put a clinical hold on the Phase 2 trial of CART-ddBCMA after a patient died. 

By August, Arcellx announced the hold had been lifted and the trial was resuming. During the review process, the pharma said, it updated the trial protocol and retrained clinical sites.

Elghandour also added that the investment from Kite will help increase its cash flow through 2027, as the company advances towards commercializing CART-ddBCMA.

The companies said the transaction is expected to close by the end of the year and Arcellx will receive a $200 million equity investment.

Kite’s expansion of the Arcellx deal comes days after Gilead released its latest earnings report, beating Wall Street expectations thanks to double-digit growth in sales of oncology treatments and HIV medicine Biktarvy.

The company’s earnings were released a few weeks after it inked a partnership with Assembly Biosciences to develop antiviral therapies for diseases like herpes, hepatitis B and hepatitis D.