Adaptive Biotechnologies signs blockbuster deal with Genentech for personalized cancer treatments worth up to $2 billion

Adaptive Biotechnologies has signed a $300 million collaborative licensing agreement with Genentech to develop highly personalized cancer therapies. In addition to the up-front payment, Adaptive could receive up to $2 billion if certain milestones are met, as well as royalties on potential sales.

“This is a whole new way to treat cancer patients,” Adaptive CEO Chad Robins told GeekWire. “From an economic standpoint, it’s a huge deal for us.”

Under the deal, Seattle-based Adaptive will provide the patient-screening capabilities and Genentech will take on the task of clinical development, regulatory approval and commercialization of the cancer therapy.

Adaptive Biotechnologies Co-founder and CEO Chad Robins speaking from the Health Tech stage at the 2018 GeekWire Summit. (GeekWire Photo / Dan DeLong)

“We had our choice of partners,” said Robins, adding that Genentech’s science-first approach was an important selling point, as well as its successful cancer therapy development experience.

Genetech is a giant in drug development and life sciences, purchased for a whopping $46 billion by Roche Holdings in 2009.

Adaptive — led by brothers Chad and Harlan Robins — is an up-and-comer on the Seattle biotech scene, having raised just over $400 million in venture funding since its founding in 2009.

Known for its innovative immunosequencing technology, CEO Chad Robins compared the technology to a Hubble Telescope for the immune system, allowing scientists to examine immune response on a scale not previously possible.

The deal gives Genentech access to Adaptive’s T-cell receptor discovery and immune profiling platform (TruTCR). The platform is capable of identifying T-cell receptors that are best suited to target neoantigens, which are produced by tumors. The idea is to find the right immune system receptors and use them to target a patient’s specific cancer. Adaptive can still use the technology in partnerships that target diseases other than cancer, such as autoimmune conditions and infectious diseases.

“This partnership, which combines Adaptive’s pioneering platform for identifying T-cell receptors with Genentech’s cancer immunology expertise, has the potential to change the way cancer is treated and bring us one step closer to truly personalized healthcare,” James Sabry, global head of Pharma Partnering at Roche, Genentech’s parent company, said in a statement.

Adaptive has a number of current partnerships, including one with Microsoft aimed at using AI and immunosequencing to create a universal diagnostic blood test.