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.”