GlaxoSmithKline has expanded its alliance with Adaptimmune Therapeutics to accelerate its lead clinical cancer programme toward pivotal trials in synovial sarcoma.

The companies signed a strategic collaboration and licensing agreement in June last year for up to five programs, including the lead programme, an affinity enhanced T-cell immunotherapy (GSK3377794) targeting NY-ESO-1, one of the best-characterised and most immunogenic cancer antigens frequently expressed by tumours. GSK can license the programme if it chooses to.

Under the expanded arrangement, the firms will accelerate the development of NY-ESO therapy into pivotal synovial sarcoma studies and also explore development in myxoid round cell liposarcoma. Additionally, they may initiate up to eight proof-of-principle studies exploring combinations with other therapies, including checkpoint inhibitors.

The studies will be conducted by Adaptimmune with GSK effectively funding the pivotal studies and sharing the costs of the combination studies via a success-based milestone structure. 

The expanded agreement gives potential development milestones to Adaptimmune - solely in relation to the NY-ESO programme - of around $500 million, if GSK exercises its option and successfully develops NY-ESO in more than one indication and more than one Human Leukocyte Antigen type.

GSK seeks to expand flu vaccine reach

Meanwhile, GSK also said it has submitted an application to US regulators to expand the scope of its flu vaccine FluLaval Quadrivalent.

The vaccine is currently approved to prevent flu for active immunisation against influenza A subtype viruses and type B viruses, in persons three years of age and older. 

The submission seeks to expand the indication to include children aged six months through 35 months of age.