Developing allogeneic T-cell therapies for cancer 

Adaptimmune has signed a co-development and co-commercialization agreement with Astellas, through its wholly-owned subsidiary Universal Cells, Inc, to bring new stem-cell derived allogeneic T-cell therapies to people with cancer.

Astellas and Adaptimmune will work on up to three targets and co-develop T-cell therapy candidates directed to those targets. The collaboration will leverage Adaptimmune's target identification and validation capabilities for generating target-specific T-cell Receptors (TCRs), chimeric antigen receptors (CARs), and HLA-independent TCRs that recognize surface epitopes independently of the HLA profile of the tumor cell.

In order to develop allogeneic T-cell therapies this collaboration will take advantage of the progress made with Universal Cells (now an Astellas Company) since 2015 on development of gene-edited iPSC cell lines, and separately on Adaptimmune’s proprietary process for generating T-cells from stem cells without the use of feeder cell lines. The combination of these two developments results in the ability to create off-the-shelf T-cells suitable for any patient whose tumor expresses the target of the receptor.

Astellas will fund research up until completion of a Phase 1 trial for each candidate. Upon completion of the Phase 1 trial for each candidate, Astellas and Adaptimmune will elect whether to progress with co-development and co-commercialization of the candidate, or to allow the other Party to pursue the candidate independently through a milestone and royalty bearing license, with the agreement allowing for either company to opt out. The companies will each have a co-exclusive license covering the co-development and co-commercialization of the product candidates within the field of T-cell therapy. If a candidate is developed by one company only, the appropriate licenses will become exclusive to the continuing party.

Helen Tayton-Martin
“We are delighted to establish this significant co-development partnership with Astellas, which builds upon and substantially extends an existing collaboration focused on gene editing of iPSC cells,” said Helen Tayton-Martin, Adaptimmune’s Chief Business Officer and Co-Founder. “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 will also have the right to select two targets and develop allogeneic cell therapy candidates independently. Astellas will have sole rights to develop and commercialize these products, subject to necessary licenses and the payment of milestones and royalties.