GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Adaptimmune said they will co-develop and co-commercialize Adaptimmune's lead clinical cancer program under a collaboration disclosed today.

The collaboration could yield for Adaptimmune more than $350 million over the next seven years—and comes more than a month after GSK sold off its cancer business to Novartis.

GSK’s new collaboration with Adaptimmune focuses on its affinity-enhanced T-cell receptor (TCR) engineering technology—namely, a T cell expressing a modified TCR to recognize a tumor antigen (epitope) associated with a HLA molecule. The company has created TCRs designed to target the cancer testis antigen, NY-ESO-1, and other targets.

Adaptimmune said it has seen “encouraging results” from trials for its NY-ESO-1 targeting program in multiple myeloma, melanoma, sarcoma, and ovarian cancer in the U.S. European trials set to commence shortly.

The companies agreed to co-advance the NY-ESO-1 clinical program and associated manufacturing optimization work. GSK will have an option on the NY-ESO-1 program through clinical proof of concept, anticipated during 2016, and—should it exercise its option—will assume full responsibility for the program.

“We believe that Adaptimmune’s T-cell receptor engineering technology will be synergistic with the growing immuno-oncology portfolio of GSK and leverage our existing expertise in autologous cell gene therapy. Together this combination of capabilities offers an opportunity for significant progress in the use of the body’s immune system to fight cancer,” Axel Hoos, vp of oncology R&D and head of immuno-oncology at GSK, said in a statement.

GSK and Adaptimmune will also co-develop other TCR target programs and collaborate on further optimization of engineered TCR products, drawing on Adaptimmune’s pipeline of follow-on programs.

The companies said their collaboration would generate “in excess of” $350 million plus “significant additional development and commercialization payments” if GSK exercises all its options and Adaptimmune achieves undisclosed milestones. Adaptimmune could also receive tiered royalties ranging from single to double digits on net sales.

GSK’s deal with Adaptimmune comes more than a month after the pharma giant sold off its oncology products to Novartis for up-to-$16.5 billion, one of a combined $28.5 billion in deals reached by both companies and Eli Lilly, and announced April 22. Novartis agreed to pay GSK $14.5 billion, plus up to $1.5 billion tied to two recently approved GSK-developed compounds, the BRAF inhibitor Tafinlar® (dabrafenib or GSK2118436) and the MEK inhibitor Mekinist™ (trametinib or GSK1120212) succeeding in the COMBI-D (Combination of MEK and BRAF Inhibitors versus dabrafenib) trial, which entered Phase III in 2012.

Established in July 2008 with a research base in Oxford, U.K., and a clinical base in Philadelphia, Adaptimmune specializes in developing T-cell therapies to treat cancer and infectious disease.

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