- GlaxoSmithKline is adding another partner to its research efforts in cancer cell therapy, agreeing to collaborate with the German drugmaker Immatics Biotechnologies on at least two drug programs aimed at developing immunotherapies against solid tumors.
- Per deal terms, GSK will pay Immatics about $50 million upfront to gain access to the first two programs, which will be based around the smaller company's work on T cell receptor therapies.
- Should development advance, Immatics could earn as much as $550 million more in development, regulatory and commercial milestone payments for each the two programs. GSK will also hold an option to add further programs to the partnership.
Under CEO Emma Walmsley and R&D chief Hal Barron, GSK has dramatically expanded its cancer drug pipeline, making oncology a therapeutic area of focus only several years after it sent Novartis most of its portfolio in a 2015 asset swap.
Much of the focus is on Zejula, an ovarian cancer drug GSK acquired in a $5.1 billion deal for Tesaro, and belantamab mafodotin, an antibody-drug conjugate in multiple myeloma.
But GSK has also been expanding in cell therapy. Currently its pipeline in the space is headlined by a T cell therapy licensed from Adaptimmune that's aimed at solid tumors expressing a certain protein called NY-ESO.
Late last year, GSK inked a five-year collaboration with Lyell Immunopharma, which is developing technologies that can improve T cell function and, hopefully, limit relapse due to T cell's losing their ability to kill tumors.
While the deal with Immatics is small, it will further expand GSK's cell therapy work, while keeping its focus on solid tumors.
Under the partnership, Immatics will be responsible for developing its T cell therapies through to designation of a clinical candidate. GSK will then take over development, manufacturing and any subsequent commercialization.
The first two programs will be focused on two undisclosed targets identified by Immatics, the companies said.
Novartis' Kymriah and Gilead's Yescarta, both CAR-T cell therapies, are approved to treat certain blood cancers, but expanding that success into the broader market for solid tumor treatments has proved difficult.