Roche, immatics join forces in potential $1B cancer collaboration

Companies to seek compounds for cancer vaccines, immunotherapies

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TUEBINGEN, Germany—Biopharmaceutical company immatics biotechnologies GmbH and Roche have begun a strategic research and development collaboration encompassing several cancer vaccines and immunotherapies. Per the terms of the agreement, Roche will pay immatics $17 million upfront, as well as committed research funding. If all potential milestones are met, the deal could total more than $1 billion, and immatics is also eligible to receive royalties based on the sales of products resulting from the collaboration.
The partners will collaborate to research, develop and commercialize new tumor-associated peptide (TUMAP)-based cancer vaccine candidates and immunotherapies in oncology, specifically gastric, prostate and non-small cell lung cancers. Roche will be responsible for both clinical development and commercialization of the immunotherapies generated under the collaboration.
“We are delighted that Roche through this alliance has recognized the huge potential of our TUMAP-based approach to rapidly develop cancer vaccines that we believe hold great promise for cancer patients in terms of overall survival improvement and quality-of-life benefits across a broad range of cancers,” Paul Higham, CEO of immatics, said in a press release. “It also validates the potential for XPRESIDENT-identified TUMAPs to play a key role in the development of other cancer immunotherapies. We are looking forward to working with Roche to make a significant difference to the outcome for patients with gastric, prostate and lung cancer.”
Among the products that will be developed is IMA942, a compound indicated for gastric cancer that is approaching Phase I clinical development. Along with that work, immatics will also conduct research for Roche utilizing its XPRESIDENT platform to identify TUMAP candidates for vaccines and other compounds in the chosen cancer indications.
immatics’ XPRESIDENT platform “combines mass spectrometry, genomics, biochemistry and immunology,” the company notes on its site, and enables the identification of TUMAPs “directly from primary human tumor material, so that TUMAPs are confirmed to be naturally processed and presented on real tumors removed by the surgeon and discarded otherwise.” The company adds that the platform “enables the detection of TUMAPs down to a femtomolar level” and is scalable for use in a variety of oncologic indications. It is the only high-throughput research technology to date that directly identifies, quantifies and prioritizes cancer antigens recognized by T lymphocytes based on the immune system’s ability to detect them.
“Roche is proud to initiate this partnership with immatics, which is widely recognized as a leader in the field of tumor antigen identification and novel cancer vaccine development,” Hy Levitsky, head of Cancer Immunology Experimental Medicine at Roche, commented in a statement. “The wealth of relevant cancer-specific antigens that we expect to emerge from this research collaboration will provide an extraordinary opportunity to elicit broad tumor-specific immune responses upon vaccination, especially when combined with other immunomodulatory molecules in our pipeline. Discovery of novel antigens also will provide unique targets for other protein-based anti-cancer agents currently under development.”

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