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Kite Pharma Announces Expanded Agreement with Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center and Pioneering Researcher Professor Zelig Eshhar to Develop Novel Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) Approaches for Cancer Immunotherapy

SANTA MONICA, Calif., Jan. 22, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Kite Pharma, Inc., (Nasdaq:KITE), a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on developing engineered autologous T cell therapy (eACT™) products for the treatment of cancer, today announced that the Company has expanded its agreement with Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center to research and develop novel approaches to CAR T cell therapy, the technology underlying Kite's most advanced programs in cancer immunotherapy. Under the agreement, Kite will collaborate with Professor Zelig Eshhar, Ph.D., the leading pioneer in CAR T cell research and Chair of Immunology Research within the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center's Division of Research and Development.

"Zelig's award-winning research has been at the center of CAR T cell programs currently advancing in clinical studies. We are pleased to have an expanded agreement with Zelig and the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center. We believe this collaboration will facilitate continued development and advancement of novel, efficacious, and more selective CAR T cell products for various tumor types," said Arie Belldegrun, M.D., FACS, Kite Pharma's President and Chief Executive Officer.

Professor Eshhar stated, "I have dedicated my career to the advancement of this transformative area of medicine, and I am excited about the opportunities before us."

Professor Eshhar continued, "Originally, my research had addressed the question of whether T cells can be programmed to effectively recognize and eliminate cancerous cells and to solve the central problem of how and why cancer cells escape the immune system. Now, we believe that we can further enhance this platform technology to develop a whole new generation of CAR T cell products for many tumor types. I look forward to the progress of this program." Professor Eshhar recently was named one of the recipients of the prestigious Massry Prize – along with Kite collaborator Steven Rosenberg, M.D., Chief of Surgery Branch at the National Cancer Institute – not only for his pioneering efforts in immunotherapy, but also for his adoptive T cell approaches to cancer treatment.

About Kite Pharma

Kite Pharma, Inc., is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company engaged in the development of novel cancer immunotherapy products, with a primary focus on eACT™ designed to restore the immune system's ability to recognize and eradicate tumors. In partnership with the NCI Surgery Branch through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA), Kite is advancing a pipeline of proprietary eACT™ peripheral blood product candidates, both CAR (chimeric antigen receptor) and TCR (T cell receptor) products, directed to a wide range of cancer indications. Kite is based in Santa Monica, CA. For more information on Kite Pharma, please visit www.kitepharma.com.

Forward-Looking Statements

This press release contains forward-looking statements for purposes of the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. We may, in some cases, use terms such as "predicts," "believes," "potential," "proposed," "continue," "estimates," "anticipates," "expects," "plans," "intends," "may," "could," "might," "will," "should" or other words that convey uncertainty of future events or outcomes to identify these forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements include statements regarding our intentions, beliefs, projections, outlook, analyses or current expectations concerning, among other things: the ability of our collaborator to develop and advance CAR T cell therapy. Various factors may cause differences between Kite's expectations and actual results as discussed in greater detail in Kite's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including without limitation in its Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2014. Any forward-looking statements that we make in this press release speak only as of the date of this press release. We assume no obligation to update our forward-looking statements whether as a result of new information, future events or otherwise, after the date of this press release.

CONTACT: Kite Contacts: Claudine Prowse SVP, Corporate Communications and Investor Relations cprowse@kitepharma.com For Media: Justin Jackson Burns McClellan (212) 213-0006 jjackson@burnsmc.com

Source:Kite Pharma, Inc.