Cancer Research UK’s spinout Achilles Therapeutics announces closing of initial public offering

2021-04-07 00:00:00

Cancer Research UK spinout Achilles Therapeutics plc (‘Achilles’) today announced the closing of its Initial Public Offering in the United States of 9,750,000 American Depositary Shares (ADSs) representing 9,750,000 ordinary shares at an initial public offering price of $18per ADS. The total gross proceeds to Achilles were $175.5 million.

Achilles is a clinical-stage immuno-oncology biopharmaceutical company developing precision T cell therapies to treat multiple types of solid tumours. The company was formed in 2016 by Cancer Research UK’s Commercial Partnerships team alongside Syncona Ltd, with the support of UCL Business and The Francis Crick Institute.

Achilles was founded on Cancer Research UK-funded research carried out by Cancer Research UK’s Chief Clinician, Professor Charles Swanton of the UCL Cancer Institute, UCLH, and Francis Crick Institute, Professor Sergio Quezada of the UCL Cancer Institute and Professor Karl Peggs of UCLH and the UCL Cancer Institute*. The research is supported by the National Institute for Health Research UCLH Biomedical Research Centre.

The therapeutic approach of Achilles centres around targeting clonal tumour neoantigens. These are mutations formed early in the development of a cancer that give rise to antigens that are expressed on every single cancer cell but are absent from healthy tissue - a discovery made by Cancer Research UK-funded researchers.  

Targeting clonal neoantigens has the potential to reduce the risk of new mutations occurring that can induce immune evasion and treatment resistance.

Since every cancer has a unique set of neoantigens, Achilles’ therapeutic approach involves generating a personalised T cell product for each patient to target and destroy tumours without harming healthy tissue.

Achilles has two ongoing Phase I/IIa trials, including a study of a clonal neoantigen T cell therapy in patients with advanced non-small cell lung cancer which dosed its first patient in June 2020.  

Cancer Research UK’s Commercial Partnership team had granted Achilles exclusive rights to develop and commercialise neoantigen technologies** arising from Cancer Research UK’s flagship TRACERx lung cancer study***.

The TRACERx study is Cancer Research UK’s largest ever single investment in lung cancer, studying the evolution of the disease in unprecedented detail.

Tony Hickson, chief business officer for Cancer Research UK, said: “We’re delighted to see Achilles Therapeutics reach this significant milestone in its development. Together with our world-class Cancer Research UK scientists, we formed Achilles with Syncona to drive a revolution in cancer treatment using clonal neoantigens to develop personalised T cell therapies.

“Achilles highlights what can be achieved by us working in partnership with venture capital to form spinout companies that have the potential to bring real impact to cancer patients.”

Notes to editors

Correction made on 08.04.21

For media enquiries contact Ellie Bennett in the Cancer Research UK press office on 0203 469 5370 or, out of hours, on 07770 597 185. 

Notes to editors

* Sergio Quezada and Karl Peggs are now also respectively chief scientific officer and chief medical officer of Achilles.


*** TRACERx (Tracking Cancer Evolution through therapy (Rx)) is the single biggest investment in lung cancer research by Cancer Research UK. Taking place over nine years, the translational research programme is the first study to look at the evolution of cancer in real time and immense detail. Researchers follow patients with lung cancer all the way from diagnosis through to either disease relapse or cure after surgery, tracking and analysing how their cancer develops. TRACERx is led by UCL (University College London) via the Cancer Research UK Lung Cancer Centre of Excellence and also supported by the National Institute for Health Research, University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre, Francis Crick Institute and the Rosetrees Trust.

Achilles PR.


About Cancer Research UK’s Commercial Partnerships Team

Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research. Cancer Research UK’s specialist Commercial Partnerships Team works closely with leading international cancer scientists and their institutes to protect intellectual property arising from their research. The Commercial Partnerships team enables delivery of patient impact through employing commercial models ranging from traditional licensing and collaborations through to spin-out company formation and innovative industry alliances in both drug discovery and non-therapeutic areas. Cancer Research UK’s commercial activity operates through Cancer Research Technology Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Cancer Research UK. It is the legal entity which pursues drug discovery research in themed alliance partnerships and delivers varied commercial partnering arrangements.

About Cancer Research UK

  • Cancer Research UK is the world’s leading cancer charity dedicated to saving lives through research.
  • Cancer Research UK’s pioneering work into the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer has helped save millions of lives.
  • Cancer Research UK has been at the heart of the progress that has already seen survival in the UK double in the last 40 years.
  • Today, 2 in 4 people survive their cancer for at least 10 years. Cancer Research UK’s ambition is to accelerate progress so that by 2034, 3 in 4 people will survive their cancer for at least 10 years.
  • Cancer Research UK supports research into all aspects of cancer through the work of over 4,000 scientists, doctors and nurses.
  • Together with its partners and supporters, Cancer Research UK's vision is to bring forward the day when all cancers are cured.

For further information about Cancer Research UK's work or to find out how to support the charity, please call 0300 123 1022 or visit Follow us on Twitter and Facebook.