GSK has backed Adaptimmune in the development of their adaptable NY-ESO SPEAR T cell cancer therapy, causing an 11% jump in their premarket value.

Adaptimmune has received support from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) for the development of their NY-ESO SPEAR T cell, which will hopefully treat a range of different cancers. The British pharma giant will pay milestones of up to £48M (€52M) during the transition period, with further payments planned for successful continued development and commercialization.

T cells struggle to identify cancer cells, but Adaptimmune’s technology engineers T cells to recognize cancer proteins and increase their affinity for cancer cells. Adaptimmune selects cancer proteins and modifies the variable regions of T cells by producing new sequences in the complementarity determining regions (CDRs).

In the case of Adaptimmune’s NY-ESO SPEAR T cell program, T cells that recognize the cancer peptide, NY-ESO, are engineered. The T cells kill cancer cells expressing NY-ESO, and off-target effects to normal, healthy cells are reduced.

The interaction between a T cell and a cancer cell, highlighting the regions targeted by Adaptimmune’s technology.

Despite an exciting concept, there have been a number of bumps along the way for Adaptimmune. The FDA put a partial hold on their clinical development in August 2016, and their decision to include fludarabine did not go down well with investors later the same year. However, it will hope that things are on the up, with a number of clinical trials underway and initial results showing a positive risk/benefit profile.

The field of cancer therapies leveraging the immune system is very busy. T cell techniques are particularly popular and could be key to finally tackling cancer safely and effectively. FDA approval of Novartis’ CAR-T therapy, Kymriah, will only increase attention on the field. Kite Pharma, recently bought by Gilead for $11.9B (€9.9B) is another big player that is not far behind.

The ability of Adaptimmune to tweak their T cells to particular cancer proteins will help them to find niches within the field. They will have to hope that results from clinical trials continue to support their technology as a potential player in the future of cancer therapies.

Images – Christoph Bergstedt /; Adaptimmune.

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  • Dieter Hovekamp

    It may be difficult for Labiotech but please stop repeating the nonsense of bumps that never existed:

    1) the partial hold was on a planned pivotal study before it even started due to a new manufacturing process that was planned to be used in a new indication for which FDA requested comparative studies to the prior manufacture. (see )

    So no bumps as no patient or treatment related issue at all. It just was a regulatory requirement!

    2) the failure of another company – namely JUNO – to misleadingly blame the general accepted method to use Fludarabine in the preconditioning regime of cell therapies for the death in one of their own studies (JCAR015) – should not be confused with ADAP independent trial to eliminate Fludarabine completely. As we all know – tragedy is – that further death happened in the Juno case without Fludarabine and the program has now been stopped & abandoned by Juno. (see )

    So again no bumps for ADAP except in some articles that went wrong by taking JUNO’s blame as given truth and never corrected even now. You can’t even blame Investors reaction for what was JUNO and your magazines initial fault.


      Thanks Dieter — 1) a partial hold is a speed bump, since it is designed to slow what could be a smooth process and your 2) comment reconciles with the facts checked in our articles. Shame Adaptimmune has to suffer for the FDA/Juno blunder.