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Harnessing T cells
LONDON—GammaDelta Therapeutics, a biotech focused on harnessing gamma delta (γδ) T cells to develop immunotherapies, has spun out a new company, Adaptate Biotherapeutics, in shared offices in White City Place, London. GammaDelta’s primary goal is developing γδ T cell-based cell therapy products, while Adaptate builds on its parent company’s knowledge to modulate γδ T cell activity using therapeutic antibodies—with the potential to trigger an immune response against cancer.
“The two companies will work together in areas of common interest in the biology of these fascinating cells, such as understanding the phenotype and behavior of γδ T cells in tumors and mechanisms of cell regulation, as well as the effects of antibodies on the γδ T cells,” says Dr. Natalie Mount, CEO of Adaptate. “I’m proud to be leading this new company, and excited by the potential we have to expand the therapeutic opportunities of γδ T cells.”
A γδ T cell is a distinct T cell subtype that responds to molecular patterns of distress and may have tremendous potential in treating cancer and other immunological disorders, Mount says.
The launch of Adaptate, established in August 2019, began with an investment of $100 million from venture capital firm Abingworth and Takeda Pharmaceutical Co. Also of note is that Japan-based Takeda picked up a time-limited option to buy Adaptate in the future.
In addition to gaining insight into cell growth and isolation, Mount says the company’s scientists have also discovered a number of potential drug targets and antibodies with the potential to modulate the activity of γδ T-cells in situ..
The companies are currently exploring the potential of γδ T cells for treatment of both hematological and solid cancers, Mount says. A positive correlation between γδ T cell infiltration and prognosis/survival in patients has been determined in a range of oncology indications in studies published in the literature by other groups.
Says Dr. Paolo Paoletti, CEO of GammaDelta: “γδ T cells have tremendous therapeutic potential that is yet to be fully realized, and our fascinating journey has afforded additional opportunities beyond our main focus on cell therapy.”
Paoletti stressed that the team is still at a very early stage in the development of their technologies, and challenges will include establishing a Good Manufacturing Practice-compliant protocol for expansion of the cells for clinical applications and scaling up such processes for commercial products. But he is confident it is worth the effort, noting, “Our preclinical data shows that we can treat solid tumors, and this is something different to a lot of the cell therapy that is happening as we speak, which is mostly in leukemia and lymphoma.”