Takeda, Abingworth Infuse $100 Million Into a Tiny Biotech, Sealing an Option for M&A

Published: May 10, 2017

Takeda, Abingworth Infuse $100 Million Into a Tiny Biotech, Sealing an Option for M&A May 9, 2017
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

OSAKA, Japan –Takeda Pharmaceutical Company and London-based venture capital firm Abingworth LLP are investing a combined $100 million into GammaDelta Therapeutics to develop that company’s T cell platform, which is based on the unique properties of gamma delta (yδ) T cells derived from human tissues.

Pharma giant Takeda and GammaDelta, an Abingworth portfolio company, forged a strategic alliance to develop the platform in order to treat a broad range of cancers, including solid tumors, and auto-inflammatory diseases. Under terms of the deal, Takeda will have the option to acquire GammaDelta should things work out favorably. Takeda signed certain of the agreements with GammaDelta Therapeutics through its wholly-owned subsidiary, Millennium Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the company said.

GammaDelta Therapeutics was founded in 2016 by Abingworth. Its scientific platform is based on research developed by Professor Adrian Hayday and Oliver Nussbaumer at King's College London and the Francis Crick Institute, with support from Cancer Research Technology Limited. GammaDelta’s R&D focuses on the exploiting the unique properties of tissue resident gamma delta (yδ) T cells. Those cells are a unique and conserved population of lymphocytes that contribute to many types of immune responses and immunopathology, the company said in a statement. By harnessing the properties, the company is aiming to develop potentially transformational treatments for cancer and auto-inflammatory diseases.

Daniel Curran, Takeda’s head of the Center for External Innovation, said in a statement that the Japanese company recognizes the “enormous potential of tissue resident yδ T cells to deliver transformative medicines in our core therapeutic areas of oncology and gastroenterology.” He said the collaboration with GammaDelta is another example of the company’s strategy to invest in innovative areas of science. Takeda focuses its R&D efforts on oncology, gastroenterology and central nervous system therapeutic areas plus vaccines.

Paolo Paoletti, chief executive officer of GammaDelta, said the collaboration with Takeda validates the novel approach the company is taking and should allow it to advance its therapies into the clinic in a more rapid manner.

"We are delighted by the progress GammaDelta Therapeutics has made since we founded the company in 2016," Tim Haines, managing partner at Abingworth and a director at GammaDelta Therapeutics, said in a statement. "This collaboration with Takeda will enable the company to advance the development of this exciting technology, which has the potential to address significant unmet needs in cancer and auto-inflammatory diseases.

Takeda has made several M&A moves, even as it has been spinning off some of its own assets. Recently Takeda has made several strategic collaborations, including Bay Area’s Maverick Therapeutics and Ariad Pharmaceuticals . Earlier this month, Takeda’s $5 billion deal for Ariad was rewarded as the U.S. Food and Drug administration granted Accelerated Approval for the lung cancer drug, Alunbrig, which is widely viewed as a likely blockbuster drug.

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