Adaptimmune heats up the immuno-oncology race & stares down Cellectis with Universal Cells deal
- Adaptimmune entered into a partnership agreement with Universal Cells, a small Seattle-based biotech specializing in gene editing. Universal uses a a nuclease-free approach to re-engineer stem cells into therapies created with donor cells.
- The deal between the two companies could be worth up to $41 million and will focus on developing off-the-shelf T-cell immunotherapies.
- Adaptimmune will now compete directly with Cellectis, the first cancer immunotherapy-focused company to tout its use of allogeneic (HLA-matched) therapies.
First there was the original promise of CAR-T: Chimeric antigen receptors (CAR)-T rely on a non-viral gene transfer system in which the patient's own T cells are removed, modified, and re-injected. These modified T-Cells, injected with targeting CARs, then seek out cancerous cells and kill them. This promising field has mostly been the domain of Juno Therapeutics, Kite Pharma, Intrexon, Ziopharm, and Pfizer.
Yet innovation continued further still. A different approach to CAR-T involves using allogeneic (HLA-matched) therapies which can be used by a broader group of patients. Theoretically, this approach might help lower astronomically high per-patient production costs, ranging anywhere from $50,000 to $450,000 depending on the therapy and the company. Cellectis has been a pioneer in this space.
With this latest collaboration between Adaptimmune and Universal Cells, these companies are betting on Universal Cells' platform to create a longer-lasting allogeneic product which can treat more patients. This could make CAR-T a more democratic, less costly proposition.