GSK forms cell therapy agreement with biotech star Lyell Immunopharma

GSK has formed a 5-year R&D cell therapy collaboration with Lyell Immunopharma to further its efforts to treat solid tumours. GSK already has a foot in the cell therapies market, through its relationship with Adaptimmune, which gave it control of a midphase autologous T cell candidate.

GSK has not been forthcoming with the financial details of the agreement, but they have expanded upon the goals of the collaboration. They hope by working with Lyell, they will develop new technologies that will improve cell therapies, notably by expanding their use beyond blood cancers.

Lyell has a low profile among rising biotech’s, but it has grown quietly into a major player. It was founded by Rick Klausner, former founder of Juno Therapeutics and GRAIL. He has surrounded himself with leaders from organizations such as Kite Pharma, Juno, the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Centre and the National Cancer Institute.

The team is developing technologies to address what it sees as the three main barriers to the creation of “reliable, curative adoptive cell therapies for solid tumours.” The activities of Lyell Immunopharma can be split into three separate actions. 1) Redefining starting cell therapies, 2) Modulation of T cells so they stay functional in the solid tumour micro-environment and 3) To control the specifity and safety of T cells aimed at solid tumour targets.

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