Immatics Biotechnologies GmbH (immatics) is a clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company dedicated to developing advanced therapeutic vaccines that are active against cancers with a high unmet medical need. The company was founded by Harpreet Singh and colleagues in 2000 as a spin-off from the Institute of Immunology at the University of Tuebingen (Prof. Hans-Georg Rammensee). The company is developing cancer vaccines that help to activate the self defense mechanisms of the human body. immatics discovers and develops tumor-associated peptides (TUMAPs) for the immunotherapy of cancer. The company’s goal is to support patients and physicians with new options in the fight against various cancers. The company’s means are synthetic peptides that specifically activate specialized white blood cells of the patient’s immune system against cancer cells. The company’s first product for the treatment of kidney cancer, IMA901, has started a global Phase III clinical trial in 2011. The second product for the treatment of colorectal cancer, IMA910, has completed a multi-center Phase II clinical trial. The third product, IMA950 for the treatment of brain cancer, has recently entered clinical studies. The company’s strategy is to focus on the development of oncology products by immatics alone or in collaboration with strong partners from the life science industry. immatics seeks in-licensing opportunities for pre-clinical and clinical substances complementing existing activities of the company in the field of active immunotherapy for oncology. Out-licensing is an integral component of the business model of immatics to capitalize on the value proposition of the immatics discovery engine and the short time required for transition of new product candidates from discovery to pre-clinical and clinical testing. immatics has a staff of more than 70 skilled and experienced employees who are focused on the rapid transition of product candidates from drug discovery and pre-clinical research to clinical development.
The development process of new products at immatics is very fast compared to typical development cycles in the pharmaceutical industry. immatics could develop a product candidate – from the collection of the first tumor samples to the delivery of a multi-peptide drug into the clinic – within 24 months or less. immatics’ chemists also develop manufacturing and analytical procedures that are subsequently used by the external GMP manufacturers. Tumor-associated peptides (TUMAPs) such as those being developed by immatics, are derived from antigens overexpressed on tumor cells. By vaccinating patients with these TUMAPs, their T cells become activated to attack and destroy cells specifically expressing these tumor-associated peptides. Currently, immatics is the only company using multiple peptides in each product confirmed to be present on real human tumor tissue. Addressing several targets at once increases the chance of eliminating the cancerous cells, and minimizes the risk of the tumor escaping the immune system. The company identified tens of thousands of novel TUMAP sequences and secured patent rights for those with high potential for use in cancer therapy.