Roche inks $3B biobucks deal for Adaptimmune's T cells

Genentech
Adaptimmune has already collaborated with GlaxoSmithKline and Astellas on its T-cell therapy platform. (Genentech)

Roche is making a big play in off-the-shelf cell therapies, putting up a potential $3 billion in biobucks for Adaptimmune Therapeutics to develop up to five cancer targets. 

Roche's Genentech unit will dish out $150 million upfront to Adaptimmune to develop and commercialize allogeneic cell therapies for up to five shared cancer targets, the companies said Tuesday. The deal also includes personalized allogeneic T-cell therapies. Specific oncology indications were kept under the hood. 

Investors took note, with Adaptimmune shares soaring nearly 20% to $5.92 a share as of 9:46 a.m. ET. 

The collaboration includes another $150 million over the next five years for additional payments and development, unless the agreement comes to a halt before then. The biobucks could exceed $3 billion, and Adaptimmune can opt in to a 50-50 U.S. profit/cost share for the off-the-shelf products.

RELATED: Astellas teams with Adaptimmune to create CAR-T, TCR therapies

Adaptimmune will develop clinical candidates using its induced pluripotent stem cell-derived allogeneic platform. That will be used to produce T-cells. Meanwhile, Genentech will provide T-cell receptors. The Roche unit will handle clinical development and commercialization. 

Adaptimmune CEO Adrian Rawcliffe touted the collaboration as a "significant step" in the company's goal of bringing cell therapies "mainstream." Roche's global head of pharma partnering, James Sabry, M.D., Ph.D., also said the partnership could change cancer treatment through a personalized approach.

One oncology area Adaptimmune is working in is liver cancer. Its cell therapy for that cancer had a complete response in one patient, tumor reductions in two patients and disease control in most patients in a phase 1 study, the biotech said Sunday. The company also has early-stage candidates in multiple tumors, head and neck cancer, synovial sarcoma, esophageal and other cancers.

RELATED: GlaxoSmithKline hits ‘go’ on Adaptimmune’s SPEAR T-cell program

Adaptimmune is no stranger to partnering with Big Pharmas. Astellas dished out $50 million upfront with as much as $900 million in potential milestones for T-cell receptor and chimeric antigen receptor T-cell therapies in January 2020. 

GlaxoSmithKline teamed up with the biotech on T-cell therapies way back in 2014. The U.K. pharma exercised its option to exclusively license the rights to research, develop and sell a T-cell therapy program from Adaptimmune for $61 million in September 2017 as part of the deal. 

The program could ultimately be pivotal for GSK, which cut an early-stage Immunocore-partnered NY-ESO target in April. The Big Pharma is now shifting focus to a similar target in the Adaptimmune collaboration.