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Takeda reels in a cell therapy research partner with ‘build-to-buy’ deal

Takeda, which has made cell and gene therapy a research focus, is turning to partnerships and acquisitions to help fill out its pipeline. In addition to the GammaDelta deal, the large drugmaker recently struck a deal with newly launched Ensoma Therapeutics and, earlier this month, Poseida Therapeutics.

GammaDelta is well known to Takeda, which in 2017 took an equity stake in the company and negotiated an exclusive option to buy it later on.

Takeda has now cashed that chip, agreeing to pay an undisclosed upfront fee and, potentially, other conditional payments. The companies expect the deal to close in the first quarter of Takeda’s fiscal year 2022, which equates to between April and June of next year.

The deal will give Takeda access to GammaDelta’s allogeneic cell therapy research and another platform based around recruiting the innate immune system to battle tumors. Takeda has also invested in cancer therapies based on natural killer cells, another component of innate immunity.

According to Takeda, GammaDelta’s research covers both non-engineered as well as genetically modified allogeneic cell therapies. Its first, dubbed GDX012, is derived from the blood of healthy donors and is meant to treat AML, a blood cancer that’s proven more difficult to treat using cell therapy than some other leukemias and lymphomas.

The first dose was delivered to a patient in a Phase 1 trial of the therapy last month, GammaDelta said on Sept. 15.

GammaDelta was built upon research conducted by scientists at Kings College London and the Francis Crick Institute in the U.K. Venture capital firm Abingworth seeded the company with initial funding and joined Takeda in committing as much as $100 million in the 2017 deal that laid the foundation for Wednesday’s acquisition announcement.