Takeda, Abingworth provide a $100M bankroll for an upstart T cell player, building in a buyout option

Paolo Paoletti

Over the past year Takeda has been ripping up its old global R&D organization and creating a new one, with a whole new set of collaborators. Today it’s taking a front row seat at a London-based startup, pitching in on a $100 million package to bankroll the construction of GammaDelta Therapeutics’ T cell platform while taking an option to acquire the biotech.

Things are moving fast at GammaDelta, which has some marquee Golden Triangle names behind it. Takeda and its venture backer Abingworth are putting in the cash, with Takeda getting an equity stake along with its buyout option.

Just a few days ago Paolo Paoletti — the former head of GSK’s cancer drug research group, before the company’s big asset swap with Novartis — was named CEO at GammaDelta. The biotech was seeded by Abingworth last fall, exploring the potential of gamma delta cells to create more effective T cell immunotherapies than the most advanced in the pipeline.

Adrian Hayday

GammaDelta’s scientific founders are Adrian Hayday and Oliver Nussbaumer at King’s College London and the Francis Crick Institute. Abingworth adviser Peter Goodfellow, another GlaxoSmithKline veteran, is chairman of the board.

Gamma delta T cells have been attracting a lot of startup interest recently. ImCheck in France just gained a €20 million round for its work in the field. They’re being inspired to go after next-gen T cell therapies as the first wave start to roil the oncology market.

Tim Haines, the managing partner at Abingworth and a director at GammaDelta Therapeutics noted that the deal with Takeda “will enable the company to advance the development of this exciting technology, which has the potential to address significant unmet needs in cancer and autoinflammatory diseases.”

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