The deals don’t stop for Celgene, despite the fact the company is in the midst of being acquired by Bristol-Myers Squibb. This morning, Celgene and Germany-based Immatics Biotechnologies GmbH inked a deal to develop novel adoptive cell therapies targeting multiple cancers.

The two companies struck a strategic collaboration and option agreement to harness the power of Immatics’ T-Cell Receptor Engineered T-cell Therapy (TCR-T) programs and aim them at solid tumors. Potential clinical programs would use proprietary T-Cell Receptors identified by Immatics’ XCEPTOR TCR discovery and engineering platform. Immatics’ program is similar to existing CAR-T programs. The ACT treatment engineers a patient’s T-cells to recognize the cancer cell targets as identified by Immatics’ XPRESIDENT platform. The cells are then expanded and reinfused back into the patient to treat the tumor from the inside, as opposed to the surface of the cancer cell, which current CAR-T therapies target. CAR-T therapies have only proven effective in some blood cancers, while this program is aimed at solid tumors, a wider target. Celgene already has a presence in CAR-T and TCR therapies, with its 2018 acquisition of Juno Therapeutics, as well as a deal with bluebird bio for the development of a CAR-T therapy for relapsed/refractory multiple myeloma. BMS, the company acquiring Celgene, also has a significant oncology program that could benefit from this deal.

Under terms of the collaboration, if Immatics develops programs against TCR-T targets, the German company will be responsible for the development of the programs through lead candidate stage. At that time, Celgene could exercise opt-in rights and assume sole responsibility for further worldwide development, manufacturing and commercialization of the TCR-T-cell therapies. Immatics would have certain early-stage co-development rights or co-funding rights for selected TCR-T-cell therapies arising from the collaboration, according to the terms of the deal.

Immatics will receive an upfront payment of $75 million for three programs, the company said this morning. If those programs are successful, then Immatics will have hit pay dirt. Celgene could potentially be on the hook for $505 million for each licensed product for a total of $1.5 billion, should all go well. Immatics will also be in line for tiered royalties should the treatments be cleared for marketing.

Harpreet Singh, Immatics’ chief executive officer who took over the helm of the company in July, said the company is excited to strike a collaborative deal with Celgene. He said the alliance with the pharma giant “leverages Immatics’ excellence in developing adoptive cell therapies” and also complements the company’s proprietary clinical pipeline of ACT products.

“By combining Immatics’ world-leading discovery engines as well as our cellular manufacturing and clinical development platforms with Celgene’s broad expertise in cell therapy research, development and commercialization, the companies join forces to enable the development of truly novel opportunities for patients with solid tumors who currently have no other treatment options,” Singh said in a statement.

Celgene isn’t the only company that Immatics has forged a relationship with. Earlier this year the company inked a deal with Roche to pair the Swiss pharma giant’s Tecentriq with IMA101, Immatics’ investigational autologous cell therapy in patients with solid cancers. IMA101 is a personalized, multi-targeted investigational immunotherapy for the treatment of multiple advanced / metastatic solid tumors.



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