Adaptive Biotech Enters Drug Discovery With Launch of New Company, Adaptive Therapeutics

Published: Aug 20, 2015

Adaptive Biotech Enters Drug Discovery With Launch of New Company, Adaptive Therapeutics
August 20, 2015
By Alex Keown, Breaking News Staff

SEATTLE – Building on a newly discovered cellular sequencing discovery that has implications for treatment of cancer, Adaptive Biotechnologies is launching a new division, Adaptive Therapeutics, the company announced this morning.

The new division will be funded, at least in part, by $195 million in Series F financing the company picked up in May. The funding, led by Matrix Capital Management, came after a spate of funding rounds that provided more than $400 million to the company.

Chad Robins, president and chief executive officer of Adaptive, said the funding will be used to “hire a world-class team to integrate this ground-breaking technology into drug development efforts focused on leveraging the immune system to treat many diseases, starting with cancer.”

The company plans to launch its new drug division on the back of a new cellular sequencing that pairs T-cell receptor (TCR) alpha and beta chain sequences at high throughput. The company’s new sequencing technology, called pairSEQ Assay, enables highly accurate, rapid and scalable pairing of up to hundreds of thousands of TCR alpha or beta sequences in a single experiment and can be applied to the process of therapeutic discovery, including the identification of highly promising TCRs for adoptive T-cell therapy, the company said. A T Cell is one of the body’s first lines of defense against pathogens. It is a type of white blood cell at the core of adaptive immunity.

Harlan Robins, a co-founder of Adaptive Biotechnologies and computational biology program head at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, said the amount of data the pairSEQ Assay provides can be used to “investigate the connection between the primary sequence of adaptive immune receptors and their associated antigenic targets.”

“The result is a starting point from which the efficacy and safety of a TCR therapeutic candidate can be evaluated across multiple applications at significantly expedited speed,” Robins said.

The pairSEQ Assay enables input of multiple sample types and preparations, addressing the challenges and circumventing the need for single cell technologies, Robins stated.

Juno Therapeutics is also developing treatments with T Cell receptor technologies. Juno is developing cell-based cancer immunotherapies based on chimeric antigen receptor and high-affinity T cell receptor technologies to genetically engineer T cells to recognize and kill cancer. JCAR015 is Juno’s chimeric antigen receptor product candidate indicated for the treatment of relapsed or refractory B-cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

Adaptive is freshly infused with $195 million in Series F financing and some are questioning if the company is looking to go public, especially after tapping Chad Cohen as its new chief financial officer earlier this month.

Cohen came to Adaptive after spending nine years at the online real estate company Zillow. While at Zillow, Cohen oversaw nine acquisitions as well as helped take the company public. In an interview with the Puget Sound Business Journal following his appointment, Cohen said his position is to prepare the company for organic growth, “to prepare a company for a whole array of opportunities, whether in the M&A space or capital space.”

Adaptive’s funding in May was the largest in the Pacific Northwest during that quarter. In all, there was $381 million invested in the region during the quarter, which means that Adaptive received more than half, according to longstanding tech journalist and GeekWire founder John Cook.

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