Astellas Pharma has signed a deal worth up to $897.5m with Adaptimmune Therapeutics to co-develop and co-commercialise stem-cell derived allogeneic CAR-T and TCR T-cell therapies for cancer.
As per the terms of the deal, the Japanese pharma company and Adaptimmune will select up to three targets for their collaboration and will co-develop T-cell therapy candidates directed at them.
The targets will not include T-cell products that are already undergoing pre-clinical or clinical trials for specific targets or those developed by Adaptimmune for other partners.
Astellas representative director corporate executive vice president, chief strategy officer and chief financial officer Naoki Okamura said: “In addition to NK cells, T-cells are an important component of cell therapy for immuno-oncology, and we look forward that this agreement with Adaptimmune will enable us to create new stem-cell derived allogeneic T-cell therapies for a variety of cancers, including solid tumors, in the future.”
According to the partners, the collaboration will make use of Adaptimmune’s target identification and validation capabilities for producing target-specific T-cell Receptors (TCRs), chimeric antigen receptors (CARs), and HLA-independent TCRs that identify surface epitopes independently of the tumour cell’s human leukocyte antigen (HLA) profile.
The alliance will also tap into Astellas’ Universal Donor Cell and Gene Editing Platform, which was gained through its $102m acquisition of Seattle-based Universal Cells in 2018.
Adaptimmune has already been working together with Universal Cells since 2015 on development of gene-edited iPSC cell lines. Under the existing collaboration, the former holds rights to develop and commercialise the subsequent T-cell therapy products using its process for generating T-cells from stem cells without using feeder cell lines.
Adaptimmune chief business officer and co-founder Helen Tayton-Martin said: “This new collaboration may encompass both CAR-T and TCR T-cell approaches, including our novel HLA-independent TCR (“HiT”) platform.
“It brings together highly complementary skills and expertise across the two organizations, and will enable the accelerated development of new, off-the-shelf T-cell therapy products for people with cancer.”
Astellas has agreed to handle the research costs till the completion of a phase 1 trial for each candidate.
After completion of the phase 1 trials, the Japanese pharma company and Adaptimmune will decide whether to move ahead with the co-development and co-commercialisation of the candidate, or to let either of them independently pursue it based on certain terms.
The Japanese company will also hold the right to select two targets and develop allogeneic cell therapy candidates on its own. It will have exclusive rights to develop and commercialise the products based on receipt of the required licenses and the payment of milestones and royalties.
The total consideration to be paid by the company to Adaptimmune includes $50m in upfront payment, research funding, milestone payments, and royalties among others.