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Roche, Biotech Ink Cancer Vaccine/Immunotherapy Deal

Lymphocyte (National Cancer Institute)

Lymphocyte (National Cancer Institute)

The company immatics biotechnologies GmbH in Tuebingen, Germany and the global pharmaceutical maker Roche will collaborate on discovery and development of cancer vaccines and therapies that harness the human immune system. The deal will provide immatics (spelled in all lower case) an immediate payment of $17 million, but future payments to the company could reach as high as $1 billion.

The immatics technology uses mass spectrometry, genomics, biochemistry, and immunology to identify tumor-associated peptides derived from human cancer tissue that are characteristic of a specific type of cancer — e.g., breast or colon cancer — yet still sufficiently common to be shared by as many patients as possible. These tumor-associated peptides also seek to be linked to proteins considered key to survival of tumors, but should also provoke a strong immune response by patients.

In addition, the company says it can use these tumor-associated peptides to generate vaccine candidates in a shorter period of time than other current methods, usually within 24 months. These same peptides can also serve as the basis for antibodies and T-cell receptors — molecules on the surface of lymphocyte or white blood cells in the immune system that attract antibodies — for the development of immunotherapies.

While immatics has products to treat colon and treat kidney cancer in intermediate- or late-stage clinical trials, the collaboration with Roche focuses on therapies much earlier in the development cycle. The most advanced of these products is code-named IMA942 to treat gastric cancer, which expected to begin early-stage trials. Under the deal, Roche will take over further clinical development and commercialization of IMA942.

The deal also calls for immatics to identify candidates based on tumor-associated peptides to treat prostate and non-small cell lung cancer. As with IMA942, Roche will be responsible for clinical development and commercialization of any additional therapies from the collaboration.

Under the deal, Roche will make an initial payment to immatics of $17 million. Future milestone payments and sales royalties across the three types of cancer therapies could reach as high as $1 billion, according to a statement issued by the companies.

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Hat tip: FirstWord Pharma

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