What happened

Shares of Adaptimmune Therapeutics plc (NASDAQ:ADAP), a clinical-stage biotech developing T-cell therapies to treat solid tumors, are surging in response to a fourth-quarter report that included data from a program that GlaxoSmithKline (NYSE:GSK) licensed last year. The encouraging results helped push the stock 27.9% higher as of 2:37 p.m. EST on Thursday.

So what 

So far, Adaptimmune's experimental NY-ESO Spear T-cell program is firing on all cylinders. Today the company reported data from the first four patients with solid tumors. Three exhibited partial responses to the treatment, and the fourth stabilized during the observation period.  

Businessperson with a rocket strapped to his back.

Image source: Getty Images.

The same candidate, which is essentially an I.V. bag full of T cells engineered to recognize and attack cancer cells, produced impressive data in a multiple myeloma trial late last year. Plenty of cellular cancer therapies that seek out surface proteins on cancer cells appear highly effective at treating blood cancers like multiple myeloma, but solid-tumor studies have been disappointing -- until now.

Now what

During the fourth quarter, GlaxoSmithKline exercised its option to develop the NY-ESO Spear T-Cell program and will handle later development stages. Milestone revenue of around $61 million from Glaxo raised the company's cash balance high enough that management expects operations to be funded through early 2020.

Adaptimmune will have to share any sales that its NY-ESO directed candidate generates with Glaxo, but it still owns T-cell therapy candidates that target MAGE-A10 and MAGE-A4 outright. Initial safety data from an ongoing "basket study" with the MAGE-A10 candidate didn't expose any major issues, and the company expects initial efficacy data from both programs in the second half.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.