Takeda has negotiated an exclusive right to acquire GammaDelta Therapeutics as part of a strategic collaboration to progress the U.K. startup’s human tissue-derived gamma delta (γδ) T-cell platform for the development of T-cell immunotherapies against multiple cancer types and autoinflammatory diseases.

GammaDelta was set up in September 2016 with seed funding from Abingworth investment group and support from Cancer Research Technology to advance γδ T-cell research by Adrian Hayday, Ph.D., and Oliver Nussbaumer, Ph.D., at King’s College London and the Francis Crick Institute. According to GammaDelta, γδ T cells are a conserved population of tissue-resident lymphocytes that can recognize and kill transformed or infected cells without the need for priming by antigen-presenting cells or clonal expansion in the lymphatic system.

As part of the alliance with GammaDelta, Takeda and Abingworth are committing up to $100M to support the firm’s R&D. Additional financial details have not been disclosed, except to note that the total will include an equity investment, option fee, and R&D funding. Takeda may opt to buy GammaDelta outright and is also appointing a director to the GammaDelta board.

“We believe the collaboration with Takeda validates our novel approach and should allow us to move rapidly to the clinic,” stated Paolo Paoletti, M.D., who was appointed as GammaDelta CEO last month. Paoletti was most recently CEO at Kesios Therapeutics and was formerly the first appointed president of GSK Oncology.

Commenting on Takeda’s agreement with the firm, Daniel Curran, M.D., head of Takeda’s Center for External Innovation, commented,  “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.”

“We are delighted by the progress GammaDelta Therapeutics has made since we founded the company in 2016,” added Tim Haines, managing partner at Abingworth and a director at GammaDelta Therapeutics. “This collaboration with Takeda will enable the company to advance the development of this exciting technology, which has the potential to address significant unmet needs in cancer and autoinflammatory diseases.”

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