Takeda Snaps Up Partner GammaDelta to Bolster Oncology Pipeline
Four years after partnering with GammaDelta Therapeutics to develop therapies for solid tumors, Takeda pulled the trigger and exercised its option to acquire the London-based company. The deal was struck one month after GammaDelta dosed its first patient in a Phase I acute myeloid leukemia (AML) trial.
The deal brings GammaDelta’s allogeneic variable delta 1 (Vδ1) gamma-delta (γδ) T cell therapy platforms under its umbrella. The GammaDelta platform includes blood-derived and tissue-derived platforms, as well as early-stage cell therapy programs. Among the assets included in the deal is GammaDelta’s experimental AML drug, GDX012, an allogeneic, non-engineered, variable delta 1 gamma-delta T cell therapy manufactured from healthy donor blood. The primary objectives of the Phase I study are to assess the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics, anti-leukemic activity and maximum tolerated dose of GDX012
Christopher Arendt, Ph.D., Takeda’s head of oncology cell therapy and therapeutic area unit, expressed his excitement about the potential impact the GammaDelta platform could have on patients.
“Gamma-delta T cell-based therapies represent a differentiated approach to target both solid tumors and hematological malignancies, and we are eager to integrate GammaDelta’s cell therapy platforms into our immuno-oncology R&D efforts,” Arendt said in a statement.
He said the deal for GammaDelta allows the company to broaden its immunotherapy offerings through the mechanisms of potential treatments that leverage innate immune responses. Those types of responses serve as the body’s first defense mechanism against diseases and include multiple mechanisms, including γδ T cells and natural killer cells.
According to company data, Vδ1 γδ T cells are a unique subset of T cells that specifically recognize and are activated by molecular patterns of dysregulation on cancer cells. The GammaDelta platform has led to the development of allogeneic cell therapies that are highly active preclinically against solid tumors and hematological malignancies, the company said.
Takeda and GammaDelta first collaborated in 2017 in a $100 million pact. For Takeda, that partnership included an equity stake in GammaDelta, as well as an option to acquire the company. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed in the announcement. However, Takeda noted that the deal includes a pre-negotiated upfront and future potential milestone payments, subject to certain adjustments.
Paolo Paoletti, chief executive officer of GammaDelta, called the acquisition decision the “culmination of years of a fruitful collaborative partnership.” Paoletti said the acquisition recognizes his company’s promising progress in developing novel technologies to treat solid and blood-based tumors.
“Through our work together, we’ve made great strides in developing our proprietary γδ T cell therapy platforms, which have enabled the development of a pipeline of innovative cell therapies and allowed for the advancement of our first program into Phase I clinical development,” Paoletti said in a statement. “This acquisition builds on the tremendous work of our talented team and provides the foundations to enable rapid development of a portfolio of innovative allogeneic cell therapies, focused on improving outcomes for patients with cancer.”
GammaDelta isn’t the only company with whom Takeda forged a relationship in 2017 and then went on to acquire. Earlier this year, the Japanese pharma giant snapped up partner Maverick Therapeutics in a deal valued at up to $525 million. The lead asset from that partnership, TAK-186 (formerly known as MVC-101), is a first-in-class active T-cell engager. It is being assessed in a Phase I/II trial for the treatment of EGFR-expressing solid tumors
For Takeda, the acquisition of GammaDelta comes shortly after the company divested a Torc 1/2 inhibitor and an SYK inhibitor to Calithera Biosciences. Arendt expressed confidence in that company’s capabilities to continue the development of sapanisertib and mivavotinib.