Immatics Biotechnologies GmbH, of Tuebingen, Germany, and Arya Sciences Acquisition Corp. plan to merge as Immatics NV. Immatics will receive gross proceeds of up to $252 million at closing, which is expected in the second quarter of 2020.
Arya is a blank check company newly incorporated in the Cayman Islands. Its stock (NASDAQ:ARYA) closed up slightly, a half percentage point, at $10.25 a share, in Tuesday’s trading. Upon the deal’s closing, labeled by the two companies as “a definitive business combination agreement,” the rebranded Immatics NV is set to trade under the ticker IMTX on Nasdaq.
Participating investors, through a roughly $104 million common stock PIPE financing, include Perceptive Advisors, Redmile Group, Federated Hermes Kaufmann Funds, RTW Investments and Sphera Funds. Other investors include Dievini Hopp Biotech GmbH Co. KG, which represents the interests of Dietmar Hopp, a philanthropist and co-founder of Sap AG, Europe's largest software company, plus AT Impf GmbH and Wellington Partners.
Immatics is an immunotherapies company that targets a range of cancers with T-cell receptors (TCRs) to attack cancer cells. Immatics’ high-throughput Xpresident platform combines mRNA sequencing and mass spectrometry to identify human leukocyte antigen-presented peptide antigens that are expressed on cancer cells but absent from healthy cells. It is designed to show peptides on real tumors and provide quantitative data on copy numbers between peptides from the same parent protein.
Immatics has been busy in the five years since beginning a strategic shift to adoptive cell therapy. In late February, the company received $50 million up-front fee and could earn up to $550 million more in per-product milestones from an adoptive cell therapy deal in solid tumor indications with Glaxosmithkline plc. That deal involves two autologous cell therapies engineered to express TCRs that bind novel cancer targets. Immatics would receive royalties on sales of any approved therapies.
The Glaxosmithkline deal is reminiscent of the pact Immatics entered with Celgene Corp. (now part of New-York-based Bristol Myers Squibb Co.) six months earlier, in which it banked $75 million up front and is in line for milestone payments of up to $505 million per product. In that three-program deal, the German firm retained certain co-development rights. Terms of the GSK agreement were less explicit in terms of potential co-development rights, but they are also an option, along with the possibility of employing Immatics’ allogeneic gammadelta T-cell therapy platform.
A 2015 alliance with the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston established a U.S. subsidiary for Immatics. The company still has two additional active alliances, with Genmab A/S, of Copenhagen, Denmark, and Amgen Inc., of Thousand Oaks, Calif., which marry its target discovery capabilities to those firms’ respective Duobody and Bite bispecific antibody platforms.
Immatics also has several internal MD Anderson-partnered programs in phase I/II trials in solid tumor indications. IMA-201 targets melanoma-associated antigen 4 (MageA4) and MageA8; IMA-202 targets MageA1; IMA-203 targets Prame (preferentially expressed antigen in melanoma); and IMA-204 targets Col6A3 exon 6. It also has two candidates in preclinical testing, IMA-401, a cancer testis antigen for treating solid cancers, and IMA-402, also a cancer testis antigen, for treating hematological and solid cancers.
The company also has longstanding alliances with Martinsried, Germany-based Morphosys AG and Basel, Switzerland-based Roche Holding AG.