Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Adicet Bio, Inc. have announced a collaboration and licensing agreement to develop next-generation engineered immune cell therapeutics. The companies plan to engineer immune cells with fully human chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) and T-cell receptors (TCRs) directed to disease-specific cell surface antigens in order to enable the precise engagement and killing of tumor cells. The collaboration is intended to generate multiple clinical product candidates for various hematological and solid tumor cancers.
Under the terms of the agreement, Regeneron and Adicet will collaborate to identify and validate appropriate targets and work together to develop a pipeline of engineered immune cell therapeutics for the selected targets. Adicet will receive a $25 million upfront payment, as well as research funding over the course of a five-year research term. Regeneron has the option to obtain development and commercial rights for a certain number of the product candidates, and Adicet has an option to participate in the development and commercialization on these potential products or is entitled to royalty payments by Regeneron. Immune cell therapy product candidates developed and commercialized by Adicet under the agreement will be subject to payment of royalties to Regeneron. Regeneron will have the right to leverage targeting molecules it developed under the collaboration in its other monoclonal and bispecific antibody programs, including those that are part of the Sanofi immuno-oncology collaboration.
"Adicet's immune cell technology, developed under the leadership of pioneering biotech executive Aya Jakobovits, complements our growing suite of immuno-oncology approaches and therapeutics," said George D. Yancopoulos, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Scientific Officer of Regeneron and President of Regeneron Laboratories. "Our proprietary technology platforms give us the ability to develop optimized monoclonal and bispecific antibodies, antibody-drug conjugates and now CARs and TCRs for engineered immune cell therapeutics, opening the door to many different combination approaches to treat cancer patients."
T-cells engineered with tumor targeting molecules, such as CARs and TCRs, are emerging as a potential approach to restore the immune system's ability to recognize and eradicate tumors. However, there are several limitations to the current approaches for developing engineered T-cell therapeutics. Most approaches rely on ex vivo (outside of the body) editing of the patient's own immune cells, which creates process variability and logistical challenges. Regeneron and Adicet plan to pursue off-the-shelf cellular therapies. Additionally, while the current engineered product candidates have shown promise in certain blood cancers, such as leukemia and lymphoma, such efficacy in solid tumors is yet to be proven. The cell platform being developed by Adicet and novel targeting approaches to be pursued by the collaborators are aimed at improving access to and killing of solid tumor cells.
"We are excited to join forces with Regeneron, an industry leader in the development of cutting-edge platform technologies and immune-based products," said Aya Jakobovits, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of Adicet. "The collaboration leverages complementary strengths and technologies of the two companies and expands Adicet's ability to grow a broad pipeline of novel immune cell products to fight different cancer indications."