Oxford-based Adaptimmune has launched its IPO on NASDAQ, where the immunotherapist plans to raise about €156.7M. The company is focused on novel cancer immunotherapy products based on T-cell receptors.
[UPDATE]: The company successfully raised the quantity expected.
Adaptimmune is focused on the use of T-cell therapy to treat cancer. It aims to utilise the body’s own machinery, T cells, to target and destroy cancerous cells by using engineered, increased affinity T-cell receptors (TCRs). This will allow patients to strengthen their natural T-cell responses and to overcome tolerance to cancer. Specifically, cancerous or virally infected cells will typically present peptides of abnormal cancer proteins on their surface in association with tissue-type molecules called HLAs. This offers a “molecular fingerprint” called an epitope for T-cells for the immune system to identify. However, the majority of cancer target proteins are derived from normal proteins in the body, and T cells are naturally programmed not to recognize them, manifested by their very low binding affinity.
Adaptimmune’s technology engineers the natural TCR affinity to cancer protein epitopes on the patient’s cells in order to target and then destroy cancer cells in patients. This approach is a close relative of the leading Chimeric Antibody Receptors technology (CARs). Unlike CARs, Adaptimmune’s TCR therapeutics can target both intracellular as well as extracellular cancer target proteins. This capability significantly increases the breadth of targets.
Adaptimmune’s lead program is an affinity enhanced TCR therapeutic targeting the NY-ESO cancer antigen. The therapeutic candidate, which is being developed in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline, has demonstrated signs of efficacy in Phase I/II trials in solid tumors and in hematologic cancer types.
The company, which last year was named one of the fifteen 2014 Fierce companies, is betting on what could be one of the next big hits in no time: cell treatments against cancer.