Next-gen engineered T-cell upstart nabs Regeneron option deal after Series A

dealmaking

A scant 6 months after rounding up $51 million in a Series A round led by OrbiMed that also included Novartis Venture Fund, Adicet Bio has secured a 5-year deal with Regeneron Pharmaceuticals ($REGN). The biopharma will pay $25 million up front and research funding to develop multiple clinical candidates for various hematological and solid tumor cancers.

“We are willing to go where the science leads us, and this often means exploring multiple approaches at once,” Regeneron SVP of Strategy and Investor Relations Dr. Michael Aberman told FierceBiotech. “This is certainly true in immuno-oncology, where we see great potential in many technologies and mechanisms, including checkpoint inhibitors, bispecific antibodies and engineered immune cell products like CAR-Ts.”

He added, “We’ve made a number of research collaborations across these areas that complement our core Veloci-technologies. It’s too soon to say what we think is the ‘most promising,’ as it’s likely that there will be unique applications for each and benefits in combination therapies.”

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The partners plan to develop human chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) and T-cell receptors (TCRs) that target disease-specific cell surface antigens in order to kill tumor cells. Under the deal, Regeneron has the option to development and commercial rights for an undisclosed number of candidates.

Adicet can opt in to participate in development and commercialization, or it stands to bring in undefined royalty payments. Regeneron can also use targeting molecules developed as part of the deal in its monoclonal and bispecific antibody programs, including those partnered with Sanofi ($SNY).

Regeneron and Adicet plan to create cell-based candidates that are already ready to sell, rather than autologous ones that are created for individuals based on a patient’s own cells. The expectation is that Adicet’s platform could be useful particularly in solid tumors, where engineered cellular therapies have yet to be demonstrated. Treatment of liquid, or blood, cancers such as leukemia and lymphoma has shown promise already with them, though.

“Adicet is developing a novel approach for off-the-shelf immune cell therapy, which is also aimed at overcoming other challenges associated with current approaches, including efficacy in solid tumors," Adicet President and CEO Aya Jakobovits told FierceBiotech. “For example, the properties of the cell products will enable them to better penetrate into solid tumors and function within the tumor microenvironment.”

She added, “Regeneron’s cutting-edge platform technologies and capabilities enable the engineering of our immune cells with novel disease-specific fully human CAR-T and TCR targeting moieties to enhance the cell efficacy and safety.”

At the time of the Series A financing, the Menlo Park, CA-based startup also acquired Israeli company Applied Immune Technologies, which develops immunotherapies to work in the intracellular proteome.

- here is the release

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