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Roche cuts $1bn deal on cancer therapy with Immatics

Licenses series of early-stage oncology immunotherapy programmes

Roche Basel SwitzerlandRoche has licensed a series of early-stage cancer immunotherapy programmes from German company Immatics in a deal valued at more than $1bn.

The Swiss pharma major is paying $17m upfront under the terms of the agreement, which covers vaccines and other forms of immunotherapy targeting gastric, lung and prostate cancers, with the remainder coming from research funding plus potential milestone payments.

The most advanced project among those licensed to Roche is gastric cancer treatment IMA942, which Immatics said is ready for phase I trials.

The company's lead in-house project is IMA901 for renal cell carcinoma, which has reached phase III development, and it recently started a trial of a treatment for the brain cancer glioblastoma with funding from the EU's Framework 7 programme (FP7).

The German company's products are based on a proprietary set of tumour-associated peptides (TUMAPs) which are identified using a high-throughput screening platform called XPRESIDENT.

Vaccinating patients with these TUMAPs means that their while blood cells become activated to attack and destroy the tumour cells that express them. The alliance calls for Immatics to also identify new TUMAPs for Roche using that technology.

"The wealth of relevant cancer-specific antigens that we expect to emerge from this research collaboration will provide an extraordinary opportunity to elicit broad tumour-specific immune responses upon vaccination," commented Roche's head of cancer immunology experimental medicine Hy Levitsky.

He also noted that Immatics' approach sits well alongside Roche's own immunotherapy pipeline, which includes anti-PDL-1 candidate MPDL3280A for non-small cell lung cancer

The deal with Immatics is Roche's second in the cancer immunotherapy field in the last couple of months. In September it paid $10m upfront for two preclinical therapies developed by Inovio, with another $412.5m in funding and potential milestones.

The lead project in that collaboration is INO-5150 for prostate cancer, while Roche also gained access to Inovio's electroporation technology used to deliver the vaccines.

Article by
Phil Taylor

14th November 2013

From: Research

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