Boehringer Ingelheim is expanding its immuno-oncology capabilities after the company acquired bacterial cancer therapy specialist T3 Pharmaceuticals in a deal up to SFr450 million ($509m).

T3 Pharma has developed a platform that uses bacteria to deliver bioactive proteins to the tumour microenvironment.

Boehringer Ingelheim said that acquiring T3 Pharma’s technology will “bolster” its array of immune-modulatory cancer treatments, based on a 22 November press release.

T3 Pharma will remain headquartered near Basel, Switzerland, with operations being kept in the region.

As part of the acquisition, Boehringer Ingelheim will add T3 Pharma’s lead product – T3P-Y058-739 – to its portfolio. The asset is currently being studied in a Phase I trial in patients with advanced solid tumours (NCT05120596).

T3 Pharma, which spun off from the University of Basel’s Biozentrum in 2015, uses a bacterial delivery platform as a framework for drug development. The company has repurposed the bacterial type III secretion system – a process used by bacteria to deliver proteins into a host’s cell to promote colonisation. The repurposing of this process – using Yersinia enterocolitica bacteria – allows T3 Pharma to deliver immune-modulating proteins directly to the tumour micro-environment, leaving healthy tissue alone.

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By GlobalData

Boehringer Ingelheim adds that multiple proteins can be loaded on the protein, meaning combination therapies can be designed in a single agent.

Boehringer Ingelheim aims to increase long-term remission rates in cancer patients by doubling down on immune-oncology platforms such as that of T3 Pharma. According to Boehringer Ingelheim, long-term remission rates occur between 15%-20% of patients.

Boehringer Ingelheim plans to combine complementary immuno-oncology platforms as part of its vision to boost remission rates. These include T-cell engagers, oncolytic viruses, cancer vaccines, and now bacterial-based cancer therapies.

The German drugmaker has been keeping tabs on T3 Pharma for a while. In 2020, it co-led a $27m Series C financing round.

Boehringer Ingelheim has made several cancer therapy moves this year. In January 2023, the company signed a collaboration and licensing agreement with 3T Biosciences to identify antigens using 3T’s discovery platform. While Boehringer Ingelheim did not disclose the upfront payment figure, the overall milestone-based sum totals to $268m.

In March 2023, Boehringer Ingelheim paid an initial $10m to Covant Therapeutics to enter a research collaboration for new cancer therapies in a deal that could potentially bring $471m in milestone payments.

Boehringer Ingelheim tasked Covant Therapeutics with creating a covalent drug that inhibits the ADAR1 gene in combination with existing immunotherapies for cancer treatment.