AstraZeneca has signed an agreement to acquire biotechnology firm TeneoTwo, in a deal worth up to $1.27bn, to enhance its portfolio of haematological cancer medicines.

TeneoTwo is engaged in developing potential new medicine for B-cell haematologic malignancies, including diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and follicular lymphoma.

Under the terms of the acquisition, the British drugmaker will make an upfront payment of $100m upon closing of the transaction. The firm will also make additional milestone-related payments of up to $1.17bn.

It will obtain TNB-486, TeneoTwo’s clinical-stage cancer therapy currently under Phase 1 trials to treat relapsed and refractory B-cell non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

AstraZeneca haematology R&D senior vice president Anas Younes said: “By redirecting the body’s natural immune response to target B-cell malignancies, TNB-486 alone or in combination with CD20-targeted therapy could potentially deepen clinical responses and improve patient outcomes.

“We believe this innovative molecule, which was designed to optimise the therapeutic window of T-cell activation, will enable us to explore novel combinations that have the potential to become new standards of care in this setting.”

TNB-486 belongs to a family of therapeutic antibodies known as T-cell engagers, which form an emerging therapeutic approach in haematologic malignancies and solid tumours.

The T-cell engagers are bispecific molecules, designed to redirect T-cells of the immune system to help identify and kill cancer cells.

The drug binds to both CD19, an antigen expressed on B-cells, and to the CD3 receptor on T-cells, to activate and recruit the T-cells to elicit an immune response.

AstraZeneca intends to advance the development of TNB-486 for B-cell haematologic malignancies, including diffuse large B-cell lymphoma and follicular lymphoma.

The company said that TNB-486 will further diversify its haematology pipeline, building on the success of its blood cancer drug Calquence (acalabrutinib).

In a separate development, AstraZeneca has teamed up with the Swiss-Israeli start-up company to develop a new digital patient monitoring solution.

The solution will be designed to monitor a patient’s asthma status in real-time, identify situations of worsening disease conditions and rapidly send alerts to the physician.

The two companies have agreed to conduct a clinical study at Sheba Hospital in Israel, followed by an observational study at the University Hospital of Zurich.

Based on the outcomes from the studies, the parties intend to explore further collaboration opportunities to improve the treatment of asthma patients, along with other disease areas.