Genmab pays Immatics $54M to form anticancer bispecific pact

Genmab has paid Immatics $54 million (€46 million) to enter into an anticancer bispecific antibody pact. The upfront fee and $550 million milestone commitment buy Genmab the right to work with Immatics on the development of T-cell-engaging bispecific immunotherapies in multiple indications.

Denmark’s Genmab has a bispecific antibody platform that Johnson & Johnson has used to develop drugs that recruit T cells to attack tumors. However, in assessing how to develop its next-generation immunotherapies, Genmab concluded it is best served by looking outside its walls for technology and targets. The result is a partnership with Germany’s Immatics.

Genmab will fund joint research into bispecifics that combines its antibody knowhow with Immatics’ bispecific T-cell receptor (TCR) and target identification platforms. Immatics’ bispecific technology generates soluble fusion proteins with two binding domains. One specificity binds to a receptor found on tumor cells. The other engages a TCR such as CD3 to activate T cells and orchestrate an attack on the tumor.

Similar mechanisms of action underpin other anticancer bispecific antibodies, including Amgen’s pioneering Blincyto. But Immatics thinks its technology will yield candidates that have an edge over the competition.

“This collaboration underpins Immatics’ leadership in intracellular tumor target identification and T-cell receptor engineering,” Immatics CMO Carsten Reinhardt, M.D., Ph.D., said in a statement: “Our bispecific TCR technology exhibits exceptional potency and favorable pharmacokinetic properties by combining Immatics’ proprietary T-cell engaging format with our high-affinity and highly specific T-cell receptors.” 

Immatics is contributing three targets discovered using its platform to the partnership. Genmab has an option to license up to two more targets down the line. Once bispecifics against any of the targets reach development, Genmab will take charge. Genmab will also handle manufacturing and commercialization, although Immatics has an option to contribute to product promotion in some European countries. 

The partnership adds to Immatics’ growing reputation. Over the past 18 months, Immatics has formed a bispecific R&D pact with Amgen and raised a $58 million series E round.