Britain's biggest pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), will pay £142 million ($212 million) in pre-clinical milestone payments to privately-owned Oxford-based biotech company Immunocore to develop next-generation cancer drugs.
The deal comes a week after Immunocore entered into a research collaboration and licensing agreement with Genentech, a subsidiary of Swiss drug giant Roche, for the discovery and development of multiple novel cancer drugs using its ImmTAC technology.
Under the terms of the deal with GSK, Immunocore will receive up to a total of £142 million in pre-clinical milestone payments, and in addition, for each product that reaches the market, up to £200 million in development and commercial milestone payments, plus up to double digit royalties.
Immunocore will be responsible for all of the pre-clinical development and for the initial clinical trials in patients and GSK will be responsible for the remaining development and sell the products.
Founded in 2008, Immunocore is a clinical-stage, biotechnology company developing a highly innovative platform technology that generates ImmTACs, novel drugs for the treatment of cancer and viral infection.
Immunocore traces its roots to Avidex Ltd, founded in 1999 as a spin-out from the University of Oxford to develop novel T Cell Receptor technology invented by the founder and chief scientist, Dr Bent Jakobsen.
Immunocore has created a world-leading platform of bi-specific biological drugs, called ImmTACs, which exploit the power of T Cell Receptors (TCRs) to recognise intracellular changes that occur during cancer or viral infection.
This unique recognition ability of TCRs sets them apart from traditional antibody-based therapies that can only recognise changes on the surface of cells, and provides, for the first time, the ability to develop extremely potent targeted therapies for cancers that are currently poorly served.
Its most advanced ImmTAC drug, IMCgp100 for the treatment of melanoma, is currently in Phase I/II clinical trials in the UK and the US.
James Noble, CEO of Immunocore, said, ''We are delighted to collaborate with GSK, our second major partnership signed this year. GSK is a leading pharmaceutical company with a proven track record in the development of biotherapeutics and this is an important partnership for Immunocore.''
Laurent Jespers, VP and head of Innovation BDU, Biopharm R&D of GSK, said, ''We are very excited about the opportunity to work together with Immunocore to develop ImmTACs. We believe ImmTACs offer a tremendous opportunity in treating cancer and in other areas where there is a large unmet medical need.''