Takeda signs deal with UK biotech GammaDelta Therapeutics on T cell therapy

Takeda has announced a $100 million collaboration with Abingworth to work with GammaDelta Therapeutics, a UK biotech which is pioneering a novel type of T cell therapy.

The Japanese pharma company, led by chief executive Christophe Weber, is looking to upgrade its R&D pipeline with some of the best cutting-edge science, and is investing in the newly launched biotech as part of this strategy.

GammaDelta’s drug platform is based on the unique properties of gamma delta (γδ) T cells, a class of lymphocytes that play a role to many types of immune responses and immunopathology.

GammaDelta Therapeutics was founded last year with the help of venture capital firm Abingworth and the support from Cancer Research Technology Limited. Its work is based the on research of Professor Adrian Hayday and Dr Oliver Nussbaumer at King’s College London and the Francis Crick Institute.

The company’s offices and labs are located at the London BioScience Innovation Centre, in Kings Cross, London.

Gamma delta T cells show promise to be in the next generation of immunotherapy treatments, potentially being highly potent and target-specific with fewer safety concerns compared to classes such as CAR-Ts.

Abingworth, Takeda and GammaDelta intend to use this novel platform to discover and develop treatments for a broad range of cancers, including solid tumours, and autoinflammatory diseases.

Paolo Paoletti

Paolo Paoletti

“The pioneering research developed by Professor Adrian Hayday and Dr. Oliver Nussbaumer at King’s College London and the Francis Crick Institute, the scientific founders of our company, forms the basis for the development of potentially transformational treatments for cancer and autoinflammatory diseases,” said Dr Paolo Paoletti, MD, CEO of GammaDelta Therapeutics.

We believe the collaboration with Takeda validates our novel approach and should allow us to move rapidly to the clinic.”

Takeda, together with Abingworth, will commit up to $100 million in funding to accelerate GammaDelta Therapeutics led Research and Development. The funding includes an equity investment, an option fee and research and development funding, and provides Takeda the exclusive right to purchase GammaDelta Therapeutics. Under the agreement, Takeda will appoint a director to GammaDelta Therapeutics’ board.

“At Takeda, we recognise the enormous potential of tissue resident γδ T cells to deliver transformative medicines in our core therapeutic areas of oncology and gastroenterology,” said Daniel Curran, MD, Head of the Center for External Innovation, Takeda. “This collaboration is another example of our strategy to invest in highly innovative areas of science and we’re pleased to collaborate with the experienced team at GammaDelta Therapeutics as they aim to take a  leadership position in this rapidly emerging field.”

“We are delighted by the progress GammaDelta Therapeutics has made since we founded the company in 2016,” said Tim Haines, Managing Partner at Abingworth and a Director at GammaDelta Therapeutics. “This collaboration with Takeda will enable the company to advance the development of this exciting technology, which has the potential to address significant unmet needs in cancer and autoinflammatory diseases.”

Weber and R&D chief Andrew Plump have been overseeing a root and branch renewal of Takeda’s R&D operations. In January this year Takeda agreed to pay out $5.2 billion to acquire cancer specialist firm Ariad (a price that many analysts felt was too high), but also making more than half of the firm’s 300 staff redundant.

Takeda is already seeing a return on its $5.2 billion swoop for cancer drugs biotech Ariad at the beginning of the year after the FDA approved potential blockbuster brigatinib in lung cancer last week.

Don't miss your daily pharmaphorum news.
SUBSCRIBE free here.