Less than a couple of months after selling its oncology products to Novartis, GlaxoSmithKline has signed a cancer immunotherapy pact with fellow UK firm Adatimmune.

The deal involves the latter’s T-cell receptor (TCR) engineering technology, which targets the cancer testis antigen NY-ESO-1, among others. Adaptimmune’s trials in the NY-ESO-1 programme in multiple myeloma, melanoma, sarcoma and ovarian cancer in the USA “are generating encouraging results”, with European studies set to commence shortly, and it has a pipeline of follow-on programmes.

The deal could bring in over $350 million to the Oxford-based biotech’s coffers over the next seven years, with significant additional development and commercialisation payments becoming due in subsequent years if GSK exercises all its options and milestones continue to be met. In addition, Adaptimmune would also receive tiered royalties ranging from single to double digits.
GSK will have an option on the NY-ESO-1 programme through proof of concept, anticipated during 2016, and will then assume full responsibility for the TCR project, which the firms will co-develop until then. James Noble, chief executive at Adaptimmune, said the firm is delighted to collaborate with GSK, “which has made a strategic commitment to immuno-oncology”, and “its substantial development and manufacturing expertise in key areas will be invaluable”.
Axel Hoos, head of immuno-oncology at GSK, said Adaptimmune’s TCR engineering technology will be synergistic with the group’s growing portfolio in this area “and leverage our existing expertise in autologous cell gene therapy”. In April, the company sold its portfolio of cancer drugs to Novartis for up to $16 billion as part of an asset swap.