September 7, 2017 / 3:17 PM / 2 years ago

GSK bets on pioneering cancer therapy with Adaptimmune deal

FILE PHOTO: Signage for GlaxoSmithKline is seen on its offices in London, Britain, March 30, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - GlaxoSmithKline said it has licensed the rights to Adaptimmune’s pioneering T-cell therapy program to boost its pipeline in oncology, one of four areas its has prioritized for research and development.

T-cell therapy is part of a new approach to treating cancer that harnesses the body’s own immune cells to recognize and attack malignant cells.

GSK’s new chief executive Emma Walmsley said in July she would in future allocate 80 percent of the company’s R&D budget to respiratory, HIV/infectious disease, immuno-inflammation and oncology.

GSK said it would pay Adaptimmune up to 48 million pounds ($63 million) for the global license for the T-cell receptor therapy targeting the NY-ESO peptide, which is present across many cancer types.

It is being used in studies to treat six types of cancer, including a rare from of soft tissue cancer, as well as in a combination study in multiple myeloma.

GSK’s head of oncology Axel Hoos said the company had seen compelling data for the NY-ESO investigational cell therapy in synovial sarcoma, which usually develops in cells around joints and tendons, and it will capitalize on its in-house cell and gene therapy capabilities to support its development.

“We will continue to explore the potential for this novel cell therapy in multiple tumor types, and in combination with other cancer therapies,” he said.

Shares in Adaptimmune, which is based in Oxfordshire, southern England but listed in New York, were trading up 10 percent at $7.42 on Thursday.

($1 = 0.7648 pounds)

Reporting by Paul Sandle; editing by Alexander Smith

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