Takeda pens GammaDelta Therapeutics $100M pact, with M&A option

In what is becoming an increasingly common pattern, Takeda has signed up to a collaboration with a small and very young biotech with an option to buy the company down the road.

This time, the Osaka-based Big Pharma has signed a development deal with London, U.K.-based GammaDelta Therapeutics and its T-cell platform, which is based on the properties of gamma delta T cells derived from human tissues.

The companies will come together to work on this platform, seeking out new immunotherapies to treat a broad range of cancers, including solid tumors and autoinflammatory diseases.

Takeda, together with life science investment firm Abingworth, will commit up to $100 million to boost R&D from the biotech, which also comes with an equity investment, an option fee and research and development funding.

And the sweetest part of the deal for the company: Takeda holds on to the exclusive right to buy out upstart GammaDelta, which was only founded last year with help from Abingworth and support from British oncology R&D charity Cancer Research UK.

Its platform comes out of the work done in the lab by Professor Adrian Hayday and Oliver Nussbaumer at King’s College London and the Francis Crick Institute.

Paolo Paoletti, M.D., CEO of GammaDelta, said: “We believe the collaboration with Takeda validates our novel approach and should allow us to move rapidly to the clinic.”

“At Takeda, we recognize the enormous potential of tissue resident γδ T cells to deliver transformative medicines in our core therapeutic areas of oncology and gastroenterology,” added Daniel Curran, M.D., head of the center for external innovation at Takeda.

“This collaboration is another example of our strategy to invest in highly innovative areas of science and we’re pleased to collaborate with the experienced team at GammaDelta Therapeutics as they aim to take a leadership position in this rapidly emerging field.”

This route forms a similar path to the one Takeda has been taken over the past 12 months, with a rumored M&A war chest said to be worth billions for these sorts of deals.

Over the past few months, it paid $125 million for a deal with biotech Maverick that also centers on T-cell research, and comes with a five-year buyout clause.

That deal came a week after Takeda said it would pay $35 million for tiny, early-stage PvP Biologics in a GI pact, with an acquisition also here on the cards.

And in July of last year, it also signed a deal with single-asset biotech Alto to work on its early-stage study for ATC-1906, which is being tested for certain aspects of gastroparesis, and again holds an option to buy out the tiny Californian biotech at the end of phase 1 testing.