Using immunotherapy to treat cancer is one of the hottest trends in healthcare research right now. The latest collaboration in the field has been announced by Eli Lilly and the German Biotech BioNTech. They will identify and validate novel tumor targets and their corresponding T cell receptors (TCRs) in one or more types of cancer.

Cancers figure among the leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. As a major public health problem, the number of companies and research groups studying treatments is quite numerous, and so are the different approaches. Natural killers are one of the biggest trends, together with CAR-T and TCR therapies.

Eli Lilly and its partner will work in this area, using BioNTech’s functional T cell receptor technologies to develop novel cancer therapies that harness the immune system. BioNTech will receive a €26.4M signing fee. For each potential medicine, BioNTech could receive over €263.7M in development, regulatory and commercial milestones. If successfully commercialized, BioNTech would also be eligible for tiered royalty payments up to double-digits. In addition, subject to the terms of the agreement, Lilly will make a €26.4M equity investment in BioNTech’s subsidiary, Cell & Gene Therapies, which specializes in the research and development of TCR and chimeric antigen receptor immunotherapeutics.

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However, the German company is not the only one exploring the cancer immunotherapies’ field. Just this week, Adaptimmune achieved one of the biggest European biotech IPOs on Nasdaq thanks to its TCR approach. The American rising star Juno Therapeutics is also beefing up its CAR-T and TCR pipeline with the acquisition of Stage Cell Therapeutics, another German biotech.

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