In The Spotlight: Adaptimmune Therapeutics

Adaptimmune Therapeutics PLC (ADAP) has returned 97% this year, while the iShares Nasdaq Biotechnology ETF index, which tracks the investment results of biotechnology and pharmaceutical equities listed on the NASDAQ, is up only 17% year-to-date.

Adaptimmune is focused on developing engineered T cell therapies. Before, we go into the company details, here’s an overview of T cells and T cell receptors.

T cells are a type of white blood cells, which play an important role in the body’s immune system and help fight cancer. T cells have ‘T cell receptors’ on their surface through which they recognize foreign substances (antigens) such as bacteria, a virus or tumor cell, and destroy them.

Since cancer proteins appear very similar to other proteins within the body, naturally occurring T-cell receptors find it difficult to recognize them. Adaptimmune’s technology aims to enhance the affinity of T-cell receptors, so that they can recognize and bind to cancer cells and as a result can stimulate the immune system to target and destroy cancer cells. The Company’s T-cell engineering technology is known as ‘SPEAR T-cells’.


The Company is developing engineered T cell therapies targeting tumor antigens namely, MAGE-A10, MAGE-A4, AFP and NY-ESO.

MAGE-A4 SPEAR T-cell therapy, MAGE-A10 SPEAR T-cell therapy, and AFP SPEAR T-cell therapy programs are wholly-owned by Adaptimmune.

— The MAGE-A4 SPEAR T-cell therapy is under a phase I, open label, dose escalation study in certain patients with urothelial (bladder) cancers, melanoma, head and neck cancer, ovarian cancer, NSCLC, esophageal cancer and gastric cancers.

— The MAGE-A10 TCR therapy is under phase I testing in certain patients with lung cancer, bladder, melanoma and head and neck cancers.

— The AFP SPEAR T-cell therapy is under a phase I study in patients with hepatocellular carcinoma.

As recently as September of 2017, GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK) exercised its option to license the right to research, develop, and commercialize Adaptimmune’s NY-ESO SPEAR T-cell therapy program.

NY-ESO SPEAR T-cell is under phase 1/2 clinical trials in patients with solid tumors and haematological malignancies, including synovial sarcoma, myxoid round cell liposarcoma, multiple myeloma, melanoma, NSCLC and ovarian cancer.

Big Deal…

Adaptimmune entered into an initial partnership deal worth about $350 million with GlaxoSmithKline in 2014. This deal was expanded in February 2016, entitling Adaptimmune to receive potential…

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