SQZ Biotech Expands Cell Therapy Partnership with Roche to Develop Antigen Presenting Cells for Immune-Oncology
- Collaboration combines SQZ Biotech’s novel cell therapy platform with Roche´s cancer immunotherapy expertise
- SQZ to receive up to $125 million in upfront and near-term milestone payments
October 15, 2018 – Watertown, MA – SQZ Biotechnologies (SQZ), a cell therapy company developing novel treatments for multiple therapeutic areas, today announced the expansion of its collaboration with Roche (SIX: RO, ROG; OTCQX: RHHBY) in cellular therapy. The expanded partnership furthers the synergistic combination of SQZ’s innovation and expertise in cell therapy with Roche’s cancer immunotherapy expertise. Under the terms, SQZ and Roche will jointly develop and commercialize certain products based on antigen presenting cells (APCs) created by the SQZ platform for the treatment of oncology indications.
“We believe that this new expanded collaboration accelerates our ability to bring a broad range of impactful oncology products to market,” said Armon Sharei, PhD, founder and Chief Executive Officer of SQZ. “We have an ambitious scientific and clinical vision to create transformative cell therapies at SQZ, and we believe our alliance with Roche will yield novel therapeutics for cancer patients.”
Under the collaboration, SQZ may receive up to $125 million in upfront payment and near-term milestones. SQZ could earn up to $250 million in clinical, regulatory and sales milestones per product that emerges from the collaboration. In addition, SQZ may receive development milestone payments of over $1 billion. Within the collaboration, SQZ and Roche could share commercial rights for certain approved products.
SQZ APCs leverage native immune functions to spark target-specific killer (CD8) T cell responses in vivo. Through effective presentation of antigens on MHC-I, SQZ APCs can directly stimulate CD8 T cell activity and potentially drive powerful anti-tumor effects that address antigens inaccessible by other adoptive cell-based cancer immune therapy strategies. In addition to their broad targeting potential, the SQZ APC engineering and manufacturing process requires no cellular expansion or genetic modification by viruses or editing agents, thereby dramatically improving the anticipated safety profile, cutting production time, and cost.
The companies will expand the 2015 Roche collaboration to jointly develop therapeutics derived from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs).
Howard Bernstein, MD, PhD, Chief Scientific Officer of SQZ, commented “By creating a PBMC APC platform, this collaboration allows for a SQZ APC product engine that could potentially generate products with more potent immunologic responses through a simplified, more efficient manufacturing process.”
About SQZ APCs
Antigen presenting cells (APCs), are cells that present antigen on their surface through major histocompatibility complexes (MHCs). APCs are primarily responsible for activating endogenous T cell responses and play a critical role in physiological responses against viruses and tumors. SQZ technology can uniquely access APC biology to engineer effective loading of their MHCs with tumor antigens. When SQZ APCs are injected into an animal, their MHC presented antigens induce powerful, specific CD8 T cell (i.e. killer T cell) responses against the antigen of interest. These CD8 T cells can subsequently drive a strong killing effect against any cell expressing the target antigen. SQZ APCs thus provide a promising platform to drive patient CD8 T cell responses against any tumor target of interest for implementation in a wide range of oncology indications.
About SQZ Biotech
SQZ Biotechnologies is a Massachusetts-based, privately held company developing cellular therapies for multiple therapeutic areas using their proprietary cell therapy platform. SQZ enables robust, scalable delivery of materials to direct natural cell functions with minimal impact on cell health and is being used to develop a new generation of therapies. The first applications for the company leverage SQZ’s ability to modulate target-specific immune responses, both in activation for the treatment of solid tumors, and immune suppression for the treatment of auto-immune diseases. For more information please visit www.sqzbiotech.com.
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