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The companies will combine expertise on T-cell therapies with two or more binding domains to create novel oncology medications.
Amgen announced on Jan. 9, 2017 that it will partner with Immatics in the discovery of novel immunotherapy candidates based on bispecific T-cell receptor technology. Immatics’ XPRESIDENT technology recognizes tumor-specific peptide antigens, and Amgen plans to use this information coupled with its own bispecific T-cell engager (BiTE) technology to create T-cell-based therapies specific to tumors.
Both Immatics' TCR-bispecifics and Amgen’s antibody constructs recognize two or more binding domains. One domain is typically on the surface of a cancer cell via a T-cell antigen-specific receptor (TCR), and another is designed to recognize a T-cell activator, such as a T-cell stimulator CD3. These signals typically result in the clonal expansion of T-cells, differentiation into effector cells, cytotoxicity, and then cell death of the tumor cell.
Amgen already has a bispecific antibody drug on the market, so it is familiar with pushing this class of drug through the regulatory process. Amgen’s Blincyto (blinatumomab) is an antibody contruct for the treatment of refractory B-cell precursor acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and it was approved in the United States under an accelerated approval pathway. Blincyto targets cell surface proteins CD19 and CD3 simultaneously, helping to bring T cells to the cancerous cells.
Amgen will give Immatics an upfront fee of $30 million and Immatics will be eligible to receive milestone payments and royalties of more than $500 million. In 2015, Amgen entered into a similar research collaboration with Xencor for $45 million to license Xencor’s XmAb bispecific technology platform for the development of a total of six targets.