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Astellas, Adaptimmune ink deal to develop T cell, CAR-T cancer therapies

Astellas Pharma Inc. and Adaptimmune Therapeutics PLC agreed to co-develop up to three T cell therapies to treat cancer, in a deal worth $50 million upfront.

Astellas unit Universal Cells Inc. and Oxfordshire, U.K.-based Adaptimmune will decide on the targets and then develop chimeric antigen receptor T cell and T cell receptor therapies using the Astellas' universal donor cell and gene editing platform it obtained with the acquisition of Universal Cells Inc.., combined with Adaptimmune's stem-cell-derived allogeneic T cell platform.

Including the $50 million upfront, Adaptimmune could receive up to $897.5 million. The deal value includes development milestones totaling as much as $73.8 million for each product if the products are co-developed and commercialized jointly, up to $147.5 million in milestone payments per product, and up to $110 million in sales milestones for products developed unilaterally by Astellas. Adaptimmune will also receive research funding of up to $7.5 million per year, plus tiered royalties on net sales in the mid-single to mid-teen digits.

Astellas, on the other hand, could receive about $552.5 million, including about $147.5 million in milestone payments tied to each therapy and about $110 million in payments tied to sales and development of the therapies developed solely by Adaptimmune. Astellas could also receive tiered royalties on net sales in the mid-single to mid-teen digits.

As part of the collaboration, Astellas will fund the research until each treatment candidate completes a phase 1 trial. Following this, both companies will decide whether to proceed with the co-development and co-commercialization of the therapy or let another company undertake the responsibility via a licensing agreement.

The cost and profits from the therapies developed under the collaboration will be shared equally by both the companies, Astellas added.

Shares of Adaptimmune climbed in value as the markets opened Jan. 14. The stock was up to $5.29 from a previous close of $1.37 as of 10:13 a.m. ET. Shares of Astellas remained steady at around $17.31.