German drugmaker Boehringer Ingelheim has partnered with US-based biotechnology company 3T Biosciences to discover and develop next-generation cancer immunotherapies.

The latest partnership is the second research strategic collaboration between Boehringer Ingelheim and 3T, following a successful initial research partnership that concluded last year.

Under the terms of the deal, Boehringer Ingelheim will provide patient-derived T-cell receptor (TCR) data to help 3T identify cognate antigens using its 3T TRACE discovery platform.

3T will receive an upfront payment and research and development support and is eligible for discovery, preclinical, clinical, regulatory, and commercial milestones, totalling $538.5m.

Boehringer Ingelheim is eligible to receive royalties on 3T Biosciences’ future sales of products arising from the collaboration.

Boehringer Ingelheim cancer immunology and immune modulation global head Lamine Mbow said: “The initial success of our work with 3T gives us confidence that together we can and will expand and accelerate our pipeline of first-in-class T-cell-based anti-cancer therapies.”

3T Biosciences president and CEO Stefan Scherer said: “The work we have done with Boehringer Ingelheim over the past year provides a higher degree of validation of our 3T-TRACE discovery platform.”

3T Biosciences is an immunotherapy company focused on next-generation therapies with curative potential based on its immune-response-guided target discovery approach.

Its 3T-TRACE (T-Cell Receptor Antigen and Cross-Reactivity Engine) discovery platform is designed to address the challenges of advancing T-cell receptor (TCR)-based therapeutics.

The platform leverages advanced adapted clinical immune responses against cancer to discover the best immunogenic targets for multiple tumour indications and patient populations.

It identifies novel shared T-cell receptor (TCR) targets of productive immune responses and completely screens TCRs and TCR mimetics for specificity and off-target cross-reactivities.

The platform identifies the most prevalent and immunogenic targets in solid tumours, enabling the delivery of tumour-specific, safer therapies for wider patient populations.

In a separate development, Boehringer Ingelheim has licensed several cancer antigens discovered and validated by UK-based biotechnology company Enara Bio, using its Dark Antigen discovery platform, EDAPT.

The licensing is part of a strategic collaboration between the companies that was initially announced in January 2021.

The German pharmaceutical company intends to leverage the licensed antigens to develop novel off-the-shelf vaccines for the treatment of patients with NSCLC.

Enara Bio president and CEO Kevin Pojasek said: “As the leader in exploring the hidden depths of cancer biology to discover and characterize Dark Antigens, we are delighted that Boehringer Ingelheim has decided to exercise its first option to license Dark Antigens identified under our partnership.

“We are proud to have successfully delivered on this exciting partnership, which validates our science and further highlights the potential of Dark Antigens to address the need for novel, cancer-specific targets in solid tumours.

“We look forward to continuing our work with the Boehringer Ingelheim team, as well as advancing our own projects to discover Dark Antigens and develop TCR-based immunotherapies.”