Amgen will partner with Immatics Biotechnologies to develop next-generation, T-cell-engaging, bispecific immunotherapies targeting multiple cancers, through a collaboration the companies said today could generate more than $1 billion for Immatics.

The collaboration is designed to create new oncology drugs by combining Immatics’ XPRESIDENT® target discovery and T-cell receptor (TCR) capabilities with Amgen’s Bispecific T-cell Engager (BiTE®) technology.

Immatics’ TCR-bispecifics and Amgen’s BiTE antibody constructs each possess two or more binding domains. One such binding domain specific to an intracellular antigen discovered by XPRESIDENT presents on the surface of a cancer cell; another such binding domain is designed to recognize a T-cell activator, such as CD3.

The companies reason that their approach will allow every T cell to become activated and capable of attacking tumors, independent of the T cells’ intrinsic specificity—a bispecific approach designed to improve the immunotherapies’ ability to eradicate malignant cells while avoiding damage to healthy tissues.

“The intersection of immunology and oncology represents a promising and rapidly developing approach that can have a significant impact for patients with cancer,” Sean E. Harper, M.D., evp of R&D at Amgen, said in a statement. “We look forward to collaborating with Immatics to translate their unique target and TCR discovery capabilities combined with Amgen’s validated BiTE technology into novel therapies.”

Amgen has agreed to oversee clinical development, manufacturing, and commercialization worldwide through the collaboration.

Amgen has also agreed to pay Immatics $30 million upfront. Immatics could also receive more than $500 million in development, regulatory, and commercial milestone payments for each program, as well as tiered royalties up to a double-digit percentage of net sales.

To date, Amgen has launched a marketed drug based on BiTE technology—Blincyto (blinatumomab), a bispecific CD19-directed CD3 T-cell engager approved by the FDA in 2014 and indicated for Philadelphia chromosome-negative relapsed or refractory B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).

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