Takeda in $125M Maverick T-cell research deal with a 5-year buyout clause

Fresh off its $5.2 billion deal for Ariad this week, Takeda shows no signs of slowing down in the deal stakes as it announces a collab and potentially a future acquisition of upstart Maverick to work on the next-gen form of cancer research.

The Osaka, Japan-based Big Pharma, which is said to have a $15 billion M&A war chest (and has been a big friend to U.S. biotechs over the past year) will work with Maverick’s T-cell engagement platform in an effort to improve the utility of T-cell redirection therapy in oncology.

The $125 million of funding includes an upfront option, equity and R&D funding payments. In what is becoming the deal structure of 2017 already, Takeda can also buy out the biotech, which only came to life last year, in the next five years for an undisclosed sum.

The biotech was originally spun out of its former parent, Harpoon Therapeutics.

“We believe that this collaboration validates Maverick’s approach to T-cell engagement in the tumor microenvironment which we believe will allow us to address previously intractable oncology targets,” said Jeanmarie Guenot, Maverick’s co-founder. “Importantly, this strong collaboration should allow us to move rapidly to the clinic and address unmet needs in cancer immunotherapy.”

“We see significant potential in Maverick to develop unique, small and customizable T-cell engagement therapeutics,” added Phil Rowlands, interim head of Takeda's oncology therapeutic area unit. “Collaborations are critical to helping us advance our aspiration of curing cancer. Working together with Maverick will enable us to leverage a potentially ground-breaking biologics platform to support Takeda’s goal of developing innovative, targeted therapies to treat people with cancer.”

MPM’s BioVentures 2014 and the UBS Oncology Impact Fund, managed by MPM Capital, also join Takeda in a $23 million Series B Financing “as a key element of the financing package,” the company added, saying that Takeda will also be placing a director on Maverick’s board.

Hans-Peter Gerber, who late last year left his VP and CSO role at Pfizer's oncology unit and spent many years at Genentech and Seattle Genetics, becomes the latest Big Pharma vet to take the helm of a biotech after being named the president and CSO of Maverick in November.