OXFORD, U.K.—Adaptimmune Therapeutics plc, a leader in the use of TCR-engineered T cell therapy to treat cancer, and Seattle-based Universal Cells Inc., a genome editing company developing universal donor stem cells, today announced that they have entered into a collaboration and exclusive license agreement for the development of allogeneic T cell therapies.
With Universal Cells’ proprietary gene editing technology, Adaptimmune intends to develop affinity enhanced donor T cells that are universally applicable. The enhanced T cell technology involves selective engineering of cell surface proteins (TCRs and class I and class II HLA proteins), without the use of nucleases, to develop universal T cell products. Adaptimmune and Universal Cells are planning to develop these off-the-shelf allogeneic affinity-enhanced T cell therapeutics to treat large patient populations.
“This collaboration marks another step towards our goal of providing innovative immunotherapeutics to patients suffering from cancer,” said Dr. Helen Tayton-Martin, Adaptimmune’s chief operating officer. “Our proprietary platform for TCR identification, affinity enhancement and safety testing is already best in class, and we set high standards for collaborations. We believe that Universal Cells’ platform for generating universal donor cells is also best in class and provides us with a great opportunity to test the feasibility of a longer term allogeneic product, thus allowing large numbers of patients to be treated from a single cell line.”
“By partnering with the world leader in TCR engineered T cell immunotherapies, we are poised to develop a scalable, safe and efficacious product with the potential to revolutionize cancer immunotherapy,” said Claudia Mitchell, CEO of Universal Cells. “This partnership will combine Universal Cells’ nuclease-free genome editing platform with Adaptimmune’s unique expertise in TCR engineering to develop a first-in-class therapeutic product based on our universal donor cells.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Universal Cells will grant to Adaptimmune an exclusive, sub-licensable, worldwide license to use, sell, supply, manufacture, import and develop products and services utilizing Universal Cells’ technology within the T cell immunotherapy field. Universal Cells will receive an upfront license and start-up fee of $5.5 million, and will be eligible for up to $41 million in milestone payments for certain development and product milestones. Universal Cells would also receive a profit-share payment for the first product, and royalties on sales of other products utilizing its technology.