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UCLA: KITE PHARMA INC.

Product: Cancer treatment

Chief Executive: Dr. Aya Jakobovits

Year Founded: 2009

Location: Westwood

What Is It?

Aya Jakobovits: An immune activating therapy aimed at stimulating the patient’s immune system to fight cancer cells of different tumor types.

What was the idea that led to the creation of the company?

Kite aims to capitalize on major recent advances in the field of cancer immunotherapy. These approaches can be translated into personalized and targeted immune-based therapies. An exciting aspect of this approach is that once a clinical response is achieved, it can last for years and even result in complete cure of patients.

What were the biggest challenges?

Los Angeles is still a challenging place when it comes to founding biotech companies. Kite’s challenges were assembling a team with the best clinical research, drug development and biotech operation expertise in the area of immunotherapy; refocusing the company’s mission as a clinical stage company; and developing a strategy for the shortest path to and through clinical development.

Why was it born at a university?

The scientific founders of the company are professors at the university who are recognized as leaders in the area of research and clinical development of immunotherapies.

What’s been the biggest change since spinning off?

The recruitment of highly experienced biotech leaders and executives with a proven track record in building companies and product development, raising $15 million to support the company’s programs, and securing significant more space to grow the company

How could it change society?

We envision active immunotherapy becoming the next promising therapeutic modality for cancer patients with the potential to provide dramatic and long lasting anti-tumor responses in broad patient populations. Kite’s therapeutic approach has the potential to revolutionize the treatment of cancer patients, including those with terminal disease.

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