Mark Cobbold and Carsten Linnemann Share Insights on Neogene Therapeutics’ Acquisition
- Carsten gave the details of the agreement with Neogene Therapeutics to bring cell therapies to patients with solid tumors through Neogene’s next-generation T-cell receptor therapies. He also talked about Neogene’s TCR discovery platform
- Mark spoke about how this acquisition provides AstraZeneca with a unique opportunity to bring innovative science and leading experts in T-cell receptor biology and cell therapy manufacturing to find new ways to target cancer
- Under the agreement, AstraZeneca acquired all outstanding equity of Neogene Therapeutics for a total consideration of up to $320m, on a cash and debt-free basis. The transaction closed in the first quarter of 2023
Smriti: Share with us the details of the agreement with Neogene (upfront, milestones, overall deal)
Carsten Linnemann: AstraZeneca has acquired all outstanding equity of Neogene Therapeutics in exchange for an initial payment of $200m. Under the terms of the agreement, AstraZeneca will pay up to $120m in additional contingent milestone-based and non-contingent consideration.
Neogene is operating as a wholly owned subsidiary of AstraZeneca, with operations in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, and Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Smriti: How will Neogene and AstraZeneca work together to advance Neogene’s pipeline?
Mark Cobbold: Combining Neogene’s expertise, platform technologies, and clinical portfolio in the T-cell receptor therapy (TCR-T) space with our extensive knowledge, expertise, and global footprint will enable the rapid acceleration of multiple programs from its pipeline into the clinic and the translation of its pioneering science into patient care.
Carsten Linnemann: At Neogene, we will continue to focus on discovering, developing, and manufacturing TCR therapies targeting neoantigens in solid cancers. We are currently advancing a pipeline comprising both fully individualized TCR therapies, designed to target a patient’s specific tumor mutations, as well as TCR-Ts targeting shared key cancer drivers, to bring next-generation transformative TCR-Ts to patients with solid cancers worldwide.
Smriti: Please share some details on the cell therapies that AstraZeneca is planning to develop.
Mark Cobbold: At AstraZeneca, we are building a pipeline of next-generation autologous and off-the-shelf cell therapies, that are designed to overcome current barriers to the widespread adoption of cell therapies for both solid and hematological tumors. This includes novel ways to engineer or ‘armor’ CAR-Ts to enhance their potential effectiveness in solid tumors and developing off-the-shelf cell therapies to overcome challenges of scalability. A core focus for AstraZeneca is bringing cell therapies to solid tumors. Adding TCR therapies enhances our emerging pipeline of innovative CAR-T and off-the-shelf cell therapies, with the goal of enabling targeting of a wider range of patient specific tumor antigens and as a result a wider range of cancer patients.
Smriti: Give some reasons why you chose Neogene for this agreement.
Mark Cobbold: With a shared goal of bringing cell therapies to patients with solid tumors, this strategic acquisition represents a unique opportunity for AstraZeneca to access Neogene’s deep expertise in the discovery, development, and manufacturing of TCR-Ts, along with their clinical portfolio of promising, next-generation TCR-Ts. AstraZeneca's leadership in developing and commercializing oncology medicines and -its growing cell therapy capabilities combined with Neogene’s expertise in TCR-Ts, clinical portfolio and proprietary TCR discovery and manufacturing capabilities help us accelerate our efforts in this field. Specifically, Neogene’s TCR discovery platform enables the targeting of intracellular cancer-associated mutations, unlocking new targets and complementing our growing pipeline of CAR-Ts that recognize extracellular targets.
This acquisition brings together the brightest minds, expertise and capabilities, supported by teams with collaborative, dynamic and passionate cultures and driven by a collective desire to deliver novel treatments to patients with difficult-to-treat cancers.
Smriti: Share insights on how T-cell therapies are advancing to bring new ways to target cancer.
Carsten Linnemann: Most current cell therapy approaches in oncology focus on modifying the immune system’s T cells to recognize proteins expressed on the surface of cancer cells. TCR-Ts have emerged as a promising therapeutic modality in cancer treatment as they can recognize intracellular targets, including cancer-specific mutations, thereby potentially unlocking targets previously inaccessible using cell therapies.
Adding TCR therapies to AstraZeneca’s cell therapy portfolio enhances the company’s emerging pipeline of innovative CAR-T and off-the-shelf cell therapies with the goal of enabling targeting of a wider range of patient specific tumor antigens. Advancing multiple cell therapy approaches will enable the targeting of a spectrum of tumor-types, with the goal of maximizing the number of patients who stand to benefit from these potentially curative medicines.
Smriti: What makes Neogene unique?
Carsten Linnemann: Our innovative TCR discovery platform and committed team are what make us unique. Neogene's team is comprised of smart, driven, and passionate individuals who are committed to our mission of revolutionizing patient outcomes in cancer treatment and delivering on our goal of developing cures where none exist. From Neogene’s founding in 2018, our mission has been driven forward by our leaders and colleagues across the world and continues to take shape through our innovative science, including our TCR discovery platform, our novel approach to TCR-T therapies targeting key cancer drivers, as well as fully individualized TCR-Ts and our continuously developing portfolio of clinical programs.
About the Authors:
Mark Cobbold is Vice President of Discovery and Head of Oncology Cell Therapy, Oncology R&D at AstraZeneca, where he applies his background as an immunologist and physician-scientist to translate science into potentially transformative medicines. Additionally, Dr. Cobbold is an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital Cancer Center. He founded the Cobbold Lab at MGH Center for Cancer Immunology, as well as co-founded five biotechnology companies over eight years. Dr. Cobbold has been named the Overall Winner of the BIG Idea Award from the University of Birmingham, as well as awards from the British Society for Bone Marrow Transplantation and the British Society for Immunology.
Carsten Linnemann is the President, Chief Executive Officer, and a Co-Founder of Neogene Therapeutics. He has co-authored several publications in the field of genetic engineering of T cells and has done seminal work on human neoantigen biology. Dr. Linnemann has been awarded numerous professional honors including the Thesis Prize from the Netherlands Society of Gene and Cell Therapy and the Antoni van Leeuwenhoek Career Achievement Award from The Netherlands Cancer Institute. Dr. Linnemann is an alumnus of the German Academic Foundation and the Boehringer Ingelheim Fonds – Foundation for Biomedical Research. He received a Ph.D. with honors for his work on engineering T cell immunity by TCR gene transfer in the laboratory of Dr. Ton Schumacher at The Netherlands Cancer Institute.
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Smriti is a Senior Editor at PharmaShots. She is curious and very passionate about recent updates and developments in the life sciences industry. She covers Biopharma, MedTech, and Digital health segments along with different reports at PharmaShots. She can be contacted at [email protected].