Seattle Genetics and Unum Therapeutics have entered into a strategic collaboration and license agreement to develop and commercialize novel antibody-coupled T-cell receptor (ACTR) therapies for cancer combining Universal T-cell Approach with Select Seattle Genetics Targets and Antibodies.
Unum’s proprietary ACTR technology, which recently entered Phase I clinical testing to assess safety and efficacy, enables programming of a patient’s T-cells to attack tumor cells when co-administered with tumor-specific therapeutic antibodies. Seattle Genetics, through its extensive work in the field of antibody-drug conjugates (ADCs), has a substantial portfolio of cancer targets and tumor-specific monoclonal antibodies from which programs will be selected for the collaboration.
An antibody-coupled T-cell receptor or ACTR is a chimeric protein that combines components from receptors normally found on two different human immune cell types – natural killer (NK) cells and T-cells – to create a novel cancer cell killing activity. T-cells bearing the ACTR receptor can be directed to attack tumor cells by providing a monoclonal antibody that binds to antigens on the cancer cell surface and then acts as a bridge to the ACTR T-cell, enabling tumor cell killing. Unum has built a platform for cancer treatment based upon ACTR. In contrast to other approaches that are limited to a single target and treat a narrow set of tumors, Unum’s novel approach is not restricted by antigen and may have applications for treating many types of cancers.
“This collaboration is an exciting extension of our work over more than 17 years, empowering antibodies in order to provide new therapeutic options for cancer patients,” noted Clay B. Siegall, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Seattle Genetics. “Unum’s innovative technology for a universal, antibody-directed cellular immunotherapy is differentiated from other engineered T-cell approaches, and may have broad applicability across a range of cancer targets. We are pleased to be collaborating with one of the most promising companies in the emerging field of cellular immunotherapy to develop new treatment options for cancer patients with unmet medical needs.”
Universal cellular immunotherapy
“Unum’s strategy is to develop and commercialize a universal cellular immunotherapy that can be used in combination with a variety of antibodies to attack a wide range of hematological and solid tumors,” explained Charles Wilson, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Unum Therapeutics. “We believe that our unique approach has the potential to advance beyond the safety and efficacy limitations of current generation T-cell approaches. We are delighted to collaborate with Seattle Genetics in the development of ACTR therapies. Their leadership in antibody-based therapies and expertise in the development of cancer treatments will be invaluable as we work together to bring potentially breakthrough therapies to patients.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Seattle Genetics will make an upfront payment of $25 million and an equity investment of $5 million in Unum’s next round of private financing. The companies will initially develop two ACTR products incorporating Seattle Genetics’ antibodies, and Seattle Genetics has an option to expand the collaboration to include a third ACTR product. Unum will conduct preclinical research and clinical development activities through Phase I with funding from Seattle Genetics. The companies will work together to co-develop and jointly fund programs after phase I unless either company opts out.
Seattle Genetics and Unum will co-commercialize and share profits 50/50 on any co-developed programs in the United States. Seattle Genetics will retain exclusive commercial rights outside of the United States, paying Unum high single to mid-double digit royalties on ex-U.S. sales. Potential option fee and progress-dependent milestone payments to Unum under the collaboration may total up to $615 million across all three ACTR programs.
As a result of the amounts paid up front and the additional development activities expected under this deal, Seattle Genetics is expected to provide a revised 2015 financial guidance in connection with announcing its second quarter financial results currently planned for July 30, 2015.