Takeda in $125M deal for startup’s ‘unique’ Immuno-oncology platform

By Dani Bancroft

- Last updated on GMT

Takeda in $125M deal for startup’s ‘unique’ Immuno-oncology platform

Related tags Medicine Therapy

Takeda has inked a 5-year deal to finance development of T-cell therapy redirection platform from recently founded biotech, Maverick Therapeutics, with exclusive right to buy.

Maverick’s deal with Takeda is through the wholly owned subsidiary, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc., with the $125m (€117m) including an upfront fee, a $23m Series B investment and development payments.

Jeanmarie Guenot, co-founder of Maverick which span-out of California-based Harpoon Therapeutics Inc. last year, told Biopharma-Reporter that what makes the immunotherapy platform different to competing systems is that the therapy is “inactive unless in [the] tumor microenvironment by a unique mechanism.”

The firm added its “novel T-cell engagement format has the potential to eliminate the toxicity challenges, [which are] inherent in the use of T-cell redirection therapy due to expression of the target antigen on normal tissue.”

Pending patent

Through this deal, Takeda gains the exclusive right to buy Maverick from its co-founders, Jean Guenot, Luke Evnin and the immunologist Patrick Bauerele, within a five year period.

Harpoon Therapeutics Inc. currently holds a single pending patent​, filed under a team which includes all three Maverick co-founders, published November 24.

The technology the patent concerns is proposing use of trispecific antibodies with a domain that binds to the CD3 antigen-receptor​, involved in activation of T-cell cytotoxicity.

The application states the trispecific antigen-binding proteins are constructed to be as small as possible, while retaining specificity toward its targets,” ​and this design has “an optimal size for enhanced tissue penetration and distribution.”

However, Guenot declined to comment further on Maverick’s technology or confirm whether this patent concerned the platform in the Takeda deal.

Hiring management

Harpoon made significant headway with recruiting management in November, appointing both a CSO, Hans-Peter Gerber, and a CEO, Gerald McMahon.

Both McMahon and Gerber have significant backgrounds in immuno-oncology, with Gerber now being appointed CEO and President of Maverick.

A director from Takeda will also join Maverick’s board.

“Working together with Maverick will enable us to leverage a potentially groundbreaking biologics platform to support Takeda’s goal of developing innovative, targeted therapies to treat people with cancer,” ​said Phil Rowlands, Interim Head of the Oncology Therapeutic Area Unit, Takeda.

Takeda has also just released an outlook for its acquisition strategy, which includes significant expansion of its Oncology portfolio.

In the report, the firm explains this is to “push up non-domestic sales for Takeda at a time when the Japanese pharmaceutical market is seeing downward pressure from cost containment measures and the rising penetration of generic drugs.”

Feature Image: iStock/unfingus 

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