Gilead Sciences' (GILD) $11.9 billion acquisition of Kite Pharma is paying off. 

On Wednesday, Gilead announced that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had granted approval to a CAR-T cell therapy developed by Kite. The drug, Yescarta (axicabtagene ciloleucel), is to be used for the treatment of adult patients with certain types of large B-cell lymphoma who have not responded to or who have relapsed after at least two other kinds of treatment. Gilead shares are up more than 2 percent Thursday morning in pre-market trading.

Gilead completed the $11.9 billion acquisition of Kite on Oct. 3. In an August announcement of the deal, GILD CEO John F. Milligan, PhD, said “The acquisition of Kite establishes Gilead as a leader in cellular therapy and provides a foundation from which to drive continued innovation for people with advanced cancers.” (See: Gilead, Amgen, and Biogen May Lift Biotech Higher)

Approximately 72,000 people are diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) in the U.S. every year, and Gilead says 7,500 patients would be eligible for CAR-T therapy. Trials showed the complete remission rate after treatment with Yescarta was 51 percent. It is the first gene therapy approved for certain types of NHL and the second therapy of its kind approved overall. Novartis' (NVS) Kymriah, which is meant for treatment of children afflicted with B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia, was the first drug in this class to be approved in August.

Gene therapy, which involves reengineering a patients own immune system to fight cancer, is considered a revolutionary technology. “Engineered cell therapies like Yescarta represent the potential for a changing treatment paradigm for cancer patients,” said David Chang, worldwide head of research and development and chief medical officer at Kite. "In just several decades, gene therapy has gone from being a promising concept to a practical solution to deadly and largely untreatable forms of cancer,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D.

The list price of Yescarta will be $373,000, and Jefferies analyst Michael Yee said it could generate sales of up to $250 million in 2018, reported Forbes.

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