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GSK and Adaptimmune Cancer Research Collaboration

GSK and Adaptimmune Cancer Research Collaboration

In what some people might consider a surprising turn of events, global pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) will be collaborating with biotech company Adaptimmune, which specialises in experimental cancer treatments.

The reason that this might come as a surprise is because it was generally thought that GSK had moved on from cancer research after trading its oncology portfolio with Swiss company Novartis’ vaccine programmes in April in a $16 billion/£9.5 billion deal. But it turns out that this was a mutually beneficial deal which would turn GSK into the world’s leading vaccine developer, and would put Novartis on the map for cancer research and development.

The latest deal with Adaptimmune, with its research base in Oxford, England and clinical base in Philadelphia, US, means that GSK will eventually have full control over the research programmes at the biotech company.

Over the next seven years, GSK will pay Adaptimmune more than £200 million ($350 million) as long as the experimental treatments reach key milestones. The companies will also be working together to develop new treatments and if any products reach the market, Adaptimmune will receive royalties for them.

Adaptimmune focuses on developing a form of immunotherapy that at the moment is still in the very early stages of testing. It involves reprogramming T-cells, which are a part of the body’s immune system, so that they attack cancer cells, and the company is currently testing treatments for skin, blood and ovarian cancers.

“[GSK’s experience and expertise] will be invaluable as we work together to accelerate the development of our programmes,” said James Noble, Chief Executive for Adaptimmune, adding that breakthrough therapies could be brought to cancer patients quicker through the collaboration.

On the other side of the deal was Vice President of Oncology R&D (research and development), Axel Hoos, and also GSK’s Head of Immuno-Oncology, who said that his company was very pleased to be able to develop new immunotherapies for cancer with Adaptimmune.

Mr Hoos said that he thought the other company’s developments in T-cell engineering would work especially well with GSK’s existing gene therapies. “Together,” he concluded, “this combination of capabilities offers an opportunity for significant progress in the use of the body’s immune system to fight cancer.”

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