Astellas and Adaptimmune team up in CAR-T development

Adaptimmune Therapeutics plc and Japanese Astellas Pharma, Inc. have signed a discovery partnership to develop off-the-shelf allogeneic T cell-based cancer therapies from stem cells.


At J.P. Morgan conference, the British company announced that Astellas has agreed to co-develop and co-commercialize stem-cell derived allogeneic CAR-T and TCR T-cell therapies against up to three targets. In contrast to current autologous T cell therapies, allogenic T cell therapies might be manufactured in a central facility reducing production cost significantly compared to autologous cell production and logistics.

Under the agreement, Adaptimmune will identify and validate new targets for generating target-specific T-cell receptors (TCRs), chimeric antigen receptors (CARs), and HLA-independent TCRs that recognize surface epitopes independently from the HLA profile of the tumour cell. Astellas subsidiary Universal Cells, Inc will provide its Universal Donor Cell and Gene Editing Platform, which makes use of a stem cell-tropic rAAV vector for engineering human pluripotent stem cells to contain deletions, insertions, or point mutations at any genomic position.

Adaptimmune has been collaborating with Universal Cells since 2015 on development of gene-edited induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC) lines that generate proprietary T-cell products without the use of feeder layers. 

Under the agreement, Astellas will fund research up until completion of a Phase I trial for each candidate with US$7.5m per year. Subsequently, Astellas and Adaptimmune may opt for co-development and co-commercialization of the candidate, or independent development through a milestone and royalty bearing licence. Under the agreement, Astellas will also have the right to select two targets and develop allogeneic cell therapy candidates on its own. 

In case of Astellas would develop the candidates on its own, Adaptimmune may receive up to $897.5m in payments. If Adaptimmune would do so, Astellas may receive up to US$552.5m. If the companies opt for co-commercialisation any T-cell therapy, costs and profits will be shared equally.


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