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Pursuing Cancer Breakthroughs with Novel Immuno-Oncology Approaches

Takeda R&D is building a broad portfolio focused on immuno-oncology (I-O), which aims to harness the body’s immune system to find and kill cancer cells. We’re complementing our deep in-house experience with partnerships with world-class academic institutions and biotechs to leverage the power of the immune system and develop breakthrough technologies. By collaborating with pioneers in emerging areas of science, we’re able to work together to find the best way to attack cancer.

“It’s incredibly exciting to watch the research collaborations we’ve established over the past several years mature and advance into our pipeline. We have a broad and innovative network of partnerships that provide us with access to the most promising science, as evidenced by our recent acquisition of Maverick Therapeutics, and give us the best opportunity to develop new medicines, faster.”

- Chris Arendt, Ph.D., head of Takeda’s Oncology Therapeutic Area Unit

At Takeda, we aim to build upon the progress to date within the immuno-oncology field. We’re working to continue the shift from marginal clinical benefit in treatment to novel therapies with transformative or curative intent. We invest in platforms and therapies that are differentiated at the level of underexplored biology where we think we can make the greatest impact. Our focus is on novel mechanisms with the potential to drive deep and durable responses focused on two pillars: cold-to-hot and redirected immunity.

Turning Tumors ‘Cold to Hot’

A “cold” tumor is one that the body’s immune system is unable to attack, which makes it more difficult to generate a response to immunotherapies. In contrast, “hot” tumors have been infiltrated by immune cells that are targeting and killing cancer cells. Our scientists and partners are working to broaden the effectiveness of immunotherapies by turning cold tumors hot, thereby transforming a poor immune response at the tumor site to one that is fully ignited.

We are taking multiple approaches to achieve this through different mechanisms of action. This includes awakening the immune system by modulating the interferon pathway, shifting hostile tumor microenvironments and modulating immune checkpoints.

Redirecting Immune Cells to Target Cancer

Takeda is advancing novel technologies through partnerships in our focus on redirected immunity, which involves mobilizing cells of the immune system to directly attack tumors.

We are pursuing multiple cell therapy platforms and engineering strategies, including those derived from natural killer (NK) cells, gamma delta (γδ) T cells and induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells, among others. Through our investment in Maverick Therapeutics, we are advancing a conditional T cell engager platform, known as COBRA, that is designed to safely target a broad range of solid tumors. COBRA-engineered therapies are intended to trigger T-cell killing only at the tumor site, while sparing damage to a patient’s healthy tissues. These approaches are intended to build upon the first generation of cell therapies and cell engagers in cancer treatment with the potential to improve safety, efficacy and patient convenience.

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