The cancer and viral disease research from British biotechnology company Immunocore is still early stage but GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) sees enough promise to commit up to $212 million in preclinical milestone payments to see those products through development.
Immunocore announced the partnership with GSK on Tuesday. The Oxford company is developing novel biological drugs across a range of disease targets. Under the deal with GSK, Immunocore will be responsible for all of the preclinical development and for the initial clinical trials in patients. But if the compounds make progress, GSK will pick up the remaining clinical development and commercialization of work.
Getting these new immunotherapies to market would yield Immunocore an even bigger payday. The company stands to gain up to $300 million in additional development and commercial milestone payments, plus double digit royalties, for each compound that reaches the market.
Immunocore has developed a platform it calls ImmTACS, short for Immune mobilizing mTCR Against Cancer. The technology exploits the power of T Cell Receptors, or TCRs, to recognize the changes in cells that occur during cancer or viral infection. Immunocore says that the ability to recognize these changes sets them apart from traditional antibody-based therapies, which only recognize changes on the surface of cells. This capability could allow Immunocore to develop targeted therapies for cancers that currently have few treatment options. Immunocore’s most advanced drug candidate is in early-stage clinical trials for the treatment of melanoma.
“We are very excited about the opportunity to work together with Immunocore to develop ImmTACs,” GSK’s Laurent Jespers, VP and Head of Innovation Biotherapeutics Development Unit, Biopharm R&D, said in a statement. “We believe ImmTACs offer a tremendous opportunity in treating cancer and in other areas where there is a large unmet medical need.”
London-based GSK operates its U.S. headquarters in Research Triangle Park.