Genentech entered a research collaboration and licensing agreement with Oxford-based biotechnology company Immunocore for the discovery and development of multiple novel cancer targets using Immunocore’s ImmTAC technology. Under the agreement, Immunocore will receive an initiation fee of between $10 million and $20 million per program and is eligible to receive in excess of $300 million in development and commercial milestone payments for each target program and significant tiered royalties.

ImmTACs are bispecific biological drugs that reportedly exploit the power of T-cell receptors (TCRs) to recognize intracellular changes that occur during cancer or viral infection. TCRs’ recognition ability sets them apart from traditional antibody-based therapies that can only recognize changes on the surface of cells and can provide the ability to develop targeted therapies for cancers that are currently poorly served. Immunocore says that the ImmTACs can be directed to target and destroy only the cancerous cells, avoiding damage to healthy cells.

“We believe Immunocore is the leading company in T-cell receptor biology and drug development and an excellent partner for Genentech in this area,” James Sabry, svp of Genentech Partnering, said.

“Our collaboration with Genentech generating ImmTACs against these novel targets allows us jointly to explore the true potential of the technology,” added Bent Jakobsen, Ph.D., CSO and founder of Immunocore. “We have established a robust and reproducible platform, and we look forward to see ImmTACs addressing some of the major challenges in cancer therapy.”

Immunocore, founded in 2008, traces its roots back to Avidex, which was founded in 1999 as a spin-out from the University of Oxford to develop novel T-cell receptor technology invented by Dr. Jakobsen.

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