Simcha Therapeutics Announces License & Option Agreement to Develop Novel Decoy-resistant IL-18 for Use in Cell Therapy Applications

South San Francisco, Calif., and New Haven, Conn. – January 8, 2024 – Simcha Therapeutics (“Simcha”), a clinical-stage immunobiology company pioneering first-in-class cytokine treatments in cancer, today announced that it has entered into a license and option agreement with Janssen Biotech, Inc. (“Janssen”), a Johnson & Johnson company, where Janssen will work to armor select CAR T-based cell therapy candidates with Simcha’s novel proprietary decoy-resistant IL-18 (DR-18). The agreement was facilitated by Johnson & Johnson Innovation.

Under the terms of the agreement, Janssen will develop, manufacture, and commercialize DR-18 armored cell therapies for a set number of programs. In exchange, Simcha will receive an undisclosed upfront fee, potential option exercise fees and development and commercialization milestone payments.

“Interest in developing IL-18 therapeutic approaches for cancer has continued to increase in recent years, tying back to findings published by our scientific founder that reinvigorated therapeutic interest in this cytokine. Armoring CAR T cells to secrete IL-18 is one of the most exciting areas of research, and we are proud to move the research forward with Janssen,” said Sanuj Ravindran, M.D., chief executive officer of Simcha. “We will continue to expand our focus on IL-18 and the range of modalities that have potential to significantly improve outcomes for cancer patients, including through our internal development programs and additional strategic partnerships in the future.”

About Simcha Therapeutics

Simcha Therapeutics is a clinical-stage immunobiology company pioneering the development of first-in-class engineered cytokine therapeutics with transformational promise for patients. The company is built on a foundation of scientific rigor to overcome biological challenges in clinically translatable pathways, exemplified by the first decoy-resistant interleukin-18 (IL-18). By unlocking the potential of IL-18, Simcha is developing its lead program (ST-067) as monotherapy and in combination with other anticancer agents. ST-067 is currently being studied both as a monotherapy and in combination with KEYTRUDA® (pembrolizumab) in Phase 1/2 clinical trials, in patients with solid tumors and who have progressed on other immunotherapeutic agents. Simcha is exploring additional modalities for IL-18-based therapeutics to capture the full potential of this potentially transformational cytokine. For more information, please visit