Astellas, Adaptimmune form partnership to develop T-cell therapies for cancer

Astellas entered into an agreement with Adaptimmune Therapeutics to develop T-cell therapy candidates directed to up to three cancer targets, the companies announced Tuesday. Under the deal, Astellas will make up to $897.5 million in payments to Adaptimmune, including an upfront payment of $50 million.

Naoki Okamura, chief strategy officer at Astellas, noted that the drugmaker "positions immuno-oncology as one of its strategic areas of primary focus," adding that that collaboration with Adaptimmune "will enable us to create new stem-cell derived allogeneic T-cell therapies for a variety of cancers, including solid tumours, in the future."

The companies said that the collaboration will utilise Adaptimmune's target identification and validation capabilities for generating target-specific T-cell receptors (TCRs), chimaeric antigen receptors (CARs), and HLA-independent TCRs that recognise surface epitopes independently of the HLA profile of the tumour cell. The drugmakers added that they will also use Astellas' universal donor cell and gene editing platform, which was obtained through the acquisition of Universal Cells in 2018.

Under the agreement, Astellas will fund research up until completion of a Phase I trial for each candidate, with the companies then deciding whether to continue development together or to allow the other drugmaker to pursue the candidate independently through a milestone and royalty bearing licence. If the parties elect to jointly develop and commercialise any T-cell therapy, they will equally share the costs and profits.

Along with the upfront payment, Adaptimmune is eligible to receive milestones of as much as $73.75 million for each product that is co-developed by both companies and up to $147.5 million in milestones per product and up to $110 million in sales milestones for those developed unilaterally by Astellas. Adaptimmune also stands to receive tiered royalties on net sales in the mid-single to mid-teen digits.

As part of the deal, Astellas will also have the right to select two targets and develop allogeneic cell therapy candidates independently, subject to licenses and the payment of milestones and royalties. Under the agreed terms, Astellas is eligible to receive $552.5 million, including up to $147.5 million in milestone payments per product and up to $110 million in sales milestones for products developed unilaterally by Adaptimmune. In addition, Astellas would receive tiered royalties on net sales in the mid-single to mid-teen digits.

To read more Top Story articles, click here.