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Genentech, Adaptive Bio Join Forces on Personalized Cancer Drugs R&D

Xconomy Seattle — 

Genentech is paying Adaptive Biotechnologies $300 million up front in a new partnership focused on developing cancer immunotherapies personalized to individual patients.

Seattle-based Adaptive has technology that can analyze the immune system to find targets for cell therapies. Adaptive says that its screening technology enables it to discover T-cell receptors (TCRs) that can recognize and target neoantigens, which are proteins generated by tumor mutations.

Under the agreement announced Friday, Adaptive will scour its library of TCRs in an effort to find the ones that could be useful in therapies, which Genentech will be responsible for engineering and manufacturing. The ultimate goal is to be able to screen a patient’s own TCRs to find the ones that target the relevant cancer proteins. The companies say such screenings will be part of the manufacturing process for each cell therapy, which is intended to be a custom treatment specific to a patient’s cancer.

Genentech, the San Francisco-based subsidiary of pharmaceutical giant Roche, could pay Adaptive $2 billion or more in milestones as the experimental therapies in the partnership progress. Specific milestones were not disclosed.

Genentech will be responsible for clinical testing of the treatments, as well as regulatory and commercialization work. Adaptive stands to gain royalties from sales if any of the therapies reach the market.

Here’s more on the origins of Adaptive, a company that emerged from immune-system profiling research at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.

T cell image from Flickr user NIAID via a Creative Commons license