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24 December 2014

12 spin-outs of Christmas: Adaptimmune

As the festive season comes around again, Global University Venturing looks back at some of the most impressive technologies driving academic spin-outs which have crossed our pages over 2014.

Author: Gregg Bayes-Brown, editor


Institution: Oxford University

Sector: Immunotherapies


Global University Venturing has had a good run of success predicting that immunotherapy firms will have a strong year ahead, even if it is somewhat of a rigged bet in our favour. In 2013, we awarded UCLA’s Kite Pharma Deal of the Year, and the firm would go on to raise $50m in May this year before holding an IPO worth $128m. And then again on this list last year, we tagged Juno Therapeutics as hot property for 2014, and the company went on to raise $310m over two rounds before announcing an IPO, which it now targets a further $212m for, netting our Deal of the Year 2014 along the way.

It is with that track record in mind that we stack our chips happily on Oxford’s Adaptimmune. It’s already been a solid year for the UK-based firm. Launched in 2008, held its series A in September, and raised a massive $104m in and oversubscribed round with Oxford University, New Enterprise Associates, and a range of other backers. It also attracted pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline for a collaboration and licensing agreement in June.

Given Adaptimmune’s intellectual property, the year ahead looks like smooth sailing for the company. Much like its two US-based peers, Adaptimmune is using engineered T-Cells to treat cancer, but also has a parallel focus on infectious diseases. The cells are extracted from a patient’s body, genetically engineered to target the disease in question, and then are infused back with the ability to specifically target a tumour or disease.

Due to the scope of immunotherapies to not only be offered alongside traditional oncology therapies but perhaps even to replace them, the area has become white hot for interest and investment. While the treatments are mostly currently in the clinical trials phase, immunotherapies have so far shown great success in complete cancer remission in patients as well as far less side effects than conventional treatments such as chemotherapy. Immunotherapies will undoubtedly grow over the coming year, and with Adaptimmune’s scientific and financial backing, it would seem like the Oxford company will be among the other spin-outs which will continue to grab headlines in the life sciences sector while providing hope for cancer sufferers.

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