Lilly and Immunocore collaborate on novel cancer therapies

Eli Lilly and Immunocore have agreed to collaborate on R&D into novel T-cell-based cancer therapies.

The companies will use Immunocore’s Immune Mobilising Monoclonal T-Cell Receptor Against Cancer (ImmTAC) technology, which aims to use the body’s own immune system to attack cancer cells. ImmTACs have shown potential to direct a patient’s T cells to target cancerous cells, avoiding damage to healthy cells.

Under the terms of the agreement, Immunocore will receive an upfront fee of $15 million per programme for the discovery of novel ImmTACs against jointly-selected cancer targets in order to generate preclinical candidate packages. If Lilly accepts a preclinical candidate package to develop and potentially commercialise, Immunocore will receive an opt-in fee of $10 million with an option to continue co-development with Lilly on a cost-sharing and profit-sharing basis. If Immunocore does not exercise its option, it will be entitled to potential future significant milestone and royalty payments.

“We are very pleased to have entered into this strategic partnership with Lilly, and look forward to working together in an integrated fashion,” said Eva-Lotta Allan, Chief Business Officer, Immunocore. “Lilly is a leading oncology player and we are delighted to advance novel T-cell-based therapies into the clinic in collaboration with them.”

“The major goal and challenge of cancer immunotherapy is to direct the immune system to recognise and destroy cancer. We believe Immunocore’s ImmTAC platform has the potential to do just that,” said Dr Jan Lundberg, Executive Vice President, Science and Technology and President, Lilly Research Laboratories.

Immunocore’s competitive advantage is its ability to engineer high affinity T-Cell Receptors and link them to an antibody fragment which can activate the immune system to kill the targeted cancer or viral cells. These bi-specific proteins, called ImmTACS, have the potential to be potent anti-cancer or anti-viral agents. The most advanced ImmTAC is in phase II clinical trials for the treatment of late stage melanoma.

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