GlaxoSmithKline has struck a deal to access two Immatics T-cell receptor (TCR) therapeutics. The deal will see GSK pay $50 million (€46 million) upfront and commit to $550 million in milestones for TCRs against two solid tumor targets identified by Immatics.
Germany’s Immatics has entered into a series of collaborations in recent years, leveraging its pool of around 200 targets to land deals with Amgen, Celgene and Genmab. As Immatics CEO Harpreet Singh sees it, the deals are testament to the potential for TCR therapies to expand the list of solid tumors that are amenable to treatment using immunotherapies.
“The target space that we can tap into with our platforms and technologies is approximately three to four times bigger than the CAR-T space. What we can do with TCRs is tap into intracellular targets, which are not accessible to CAR-Ts and antibodies,” Singh said.
Having partnered with Adaptimmune in 2014, GSK was an early Big Pharma entrant to the TCR space. Since then, GSK has continued to invest in the area, moving one of the Adaptimmune assets into a pivotal trial while entering into R&D collaborations and manufacturing partnerships with companies including Lyell Immunopharma and Hitachi Chemical Advanced Therapeutics Solutions.
Now, GSK has identified Immatics as a source of targets for its TCR operation. While details of the targets remain a secret, Singh said Immatics typically provides potential partners with a shortlist of possible targets based on the need they are trying to address. The partner then picks two or three targets to license.
That done, Immatics applies its TCR discovery capabilities to the targets, which, when the biotech is working on internal assets, typically leads to an IND in around two years. In the latest pact, Immatics is set to hand over responsibility for development to GSK once it has created binders that recognize the two targets. However, the deal also features a co-development option that could see Immatics perform other tasks including translational development and first-in-human studies.
GSK and Immatics will initially work on autologous T-cell therapies, but other options built into the deal provide scope for the collaboration to expand into allogeneic candidates and additional targets.
Immatics still has around 180 drug targets available, having picked seven for its internal pipeline and outlicensed 10 to GSK, Amgen, Celgene and Genmab. GSK could dive back into that pot to grab more targets under the terms of its deal, but the window in which new partners could pick up single targets from Immatics has now closed.
“We feel now that our alliances are complete. We have two alliances on bispecifics. We have two alliances on cell therapies. And we also need to fully focus on our proprietary pipeline. We are not intending to do more of these single target by single target partnerships,” Singh said.