Boehringer offers 3T Biosciences $268M to plug its data into biotech's TCR cancer platform

Boehringer Ingelheim wants to input its patient-derived T-cell receptor (TCR) data into 3T Biosciences' platform with the hope of identifying new antigen targets for cancer immunotherapies. If successful, 3T could be in line for a $268 million payday.

3T's platform is designed to combine wide-ranging target libraries with machine learning to improve the identification of novel shared TCR targets and screening of TCRs for specificity and off-target cross-reactivities. The ultimate goal: to produce tumor-specific, safer therapies that can be delivered at higher doses.

“3T's 3T-TRACE discovery platform has the potential to transform the treatment of cancers and beyond,” CEO Stefan Scherer, M.D., Ph.D., said in a Jan. 9 release. “By using data from patients for patients we aim to discover the best immunogenic targets for multiple tumor indications and across patient populations.”

Boehringer seems convinced, signing up to a collaboration that it says will accelerate and expand its own pipeline of T-cell based cancer therapies. In return, 3T will receive an undisclosed upfront payment and R&D support, with the possibility of discovery, preclinical, clinical, regulatory and commercial milestones reaching $268 million, on top of royalties.

The Boehringer deal is the first collaboration for 3T, which exited stealth mode last August. The Westlake Village BioPartners-backed biotech arrived on the scene armed with $40 million in series A cash, technology in-licensed from Stanford University and plans to advance a pipeline featuring development-stage TCR-T cell assets.

Recent progress at biotechs such as Adaptimmune and Immatics is beginning to validate the promise of TCR-based therapies, but, as 3T sees it, there remains scope for further improvements.

Meanwhile, Boehringer has had mixed success when it comes immuno-oncology. When the German Big Pharma acquired Texan biotech Abexxa Biologics in 2021, along with its T-cell receptor-like antibody to disrupt a specific immune checkpoint in oncology, it marked something of a rebound after a $600 million cancer mRNA vaccine pact with CureVac went up in smoke earlier in the year.