The collaboration sees Celgene pay $75m (€67m) upfront for the rights to three programs and a potential $505m (€455m) per licensed product, dependent on various milestone payments.
Immatics will use its ‘Xpresident’ technology to develop T-cell receptor engineered T-cell therapy (TCR-T) programs against solid tumor targets.
The agreement sees Immatics in charge of the development of drug candidates through to the lead candidate stage, at which point Celgene can step in to exercise its opt-in rights to take on further development, manufacturing and commercialization responsibilities.
However, a spokesperson for Immatics told us that the company will retain early stage co-development or co-funding rights for selected TCR-T-cell therapies.
“Essentially this means, that once Celgene opts in, Immatics has the option to further participate in the development of such TCR-T therapies and participate more strongly in the downstream value generation,” the spokesperson explained.
The agreement adds to Celgene’s existing immunotherapy portfolio, which include chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-T therapies and TCR technologies acquired through its purchase of Juno Therapeutics.
The spokesperson explained the advantages TCR-T therapies could potentially hold over other treatment modalities: “T-cell receptor-based TCR-T therapies have the advantage of tapping into the intracellular pMHC target space, which is not accessible to CAR-T and antibodies.”
“We believe that novel targets/TCR pairs are the key to unlock solid cancers for immunotherapies. Our partnerships, including our latest with Celgene, underscore the unique position we have,” the spokesperson continued.
For Celgene, it represents another deal secured to expand its potential portfolio in the immuno-oncology space – as it continues to make a number of deals despite the imminent takeover by Bristol-Myers Squibb.
The latter deal is inching closer to completion, after the company agreed to divest Otezla (apremilast) to Amgen for $13.4bn.