UK-based Adaptimmune has entered into a strategic cancer immunotherapy collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) to develop and commercialise Adaptimmune’s NY-ESO-1 clinical cancer programme.

Under the terms of the collaboration and licensing agreement, Adaptimmune and GSK will co-develop the NY-ESO-1 clinical programme and associated manufacturing optimisation work.

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GSK will have an option on the NY-ESO-1 programme through clinical proof-of-concept, expected during 2016. When on exercised, it will assume full responsibility for the programme.

In addition, Adaptimmune and GSK will co-develop other TCR target programmes and collaborate on further optimisation of engineered TCR products. Adaptimmune will immediately begin work on further TCR programmes with GSK.

According to the terms of the agreement, GSK could pay as much as $350m to Adaptimmune over the next seven years if certain milestones are reached.

"We believe that Adaptimmune’s T-cell receptor engineering technology will be synergistic with the growing immuno-oncology portfolio of GSK and leverage our expertise in autologous cell gene therapy."

Adaptimmune will get further payments in subsequent years if GSK exercises all its options and milestones continue to be met. The company will also receive tiered royalties on all products that reach the market.

GSK immuno-oncology head and oncology R&D vice-president Axel Hoos said: "We believe that Adaptimmune’s T-cell receptor engineering technology will be synergistic with the growing immuno-oncology portfolio of GSK and leverage our existing expertise in autologous cell gene therapy.

"Together, this combination of capabilities offers an opportunity for significant progress in the use of the body’s immune system to fight cancer."

Adaptimmune has developed T-cell receptors (TCRs) using its TCR engineering technology. These TCRs are deployed to target the NY-ESO-1 cancer testis antigen and other targets.

According to Adaptimmune, the company’s US clinical trials in the NY-ESO-1 programme in multiple myeloma, melanoma, sarcoma and ovarian cancer are generating encouraging results. The company is set to commence clinical trials in the EU in the near future.

Image: T-cell (grey) killing a tumour cell (yellow). Photo: courtesy of Adaptimmune Limited.