GSK begins cancer cell therapy tie-up with Immatics

Cancer biotech Immatics has begun a collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline to develop novel therapies built around its T-cell-based technology.

The partnership with the big UK pharma will focus on several types of solid tumour, with the companies collaborating on a next generation of T-cell receptor (TCR) therapies.

They will initially develop autologous therapies – derived from a patient’s own cells – with the option to add allogeneic “off-the-shelf” therapies based around Immatics’ technology.

The companies will use proprietary TCRs identified by Immatics, which has bases in Tuebingen, Germany, and Houston, Texas and already works with big pharmas such as Roche, Amgen, Genmab, and Celgene, now part of Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Immatics will receive around 45 million euros, around $50 million, upfront for two initial drugs and could receive over $550 million in development, regulatory, and commercial milestone payments for each product as well as additional royalty payments.

GSK obtains an option to select additional target programmes to include in the collaboration.

For each additional programme, Immatics is entitled to option, milestone and royalty payments.

Immatics will have primary responsibility for the development and validation of the TCR Therapeutics up to designation of a clinical candidate.

GSK will assume sole responsibility for further worldwide development, manufacturing and marketing of the TCR Therapeutics with the possibility for Immatics to co-develop one or more TCR Therapeutics including the conduct of the first-in-human clinical trial upon GSK’s request.

The move is a further investment in oncology from GSK, an area of research the company seemed to have turned its back on a few years ago when it gave all its approved cancer therapies to Novartis as part of a multi-billion dollar asset swap deal.

But since taking over in April 2017, CEO Emma Walmsley has refocused the company’s R&D operation and hired former Roche R&D guru Hal Barron to oversee the hunt for a new generation of blockbuster drugs.

This includes oncology, and GSK early last year paid $5.1 billion for the cancer biotech Tesaro, which has developed and marketed the PARP inhibitor class cancer drug Zejula (niraparib).

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