A THRIVING biotech firm is recruiting 25 new staff this year after landing one of the biggest financial deals for drug development ever seen.

Immunocore, based at Milton Park, near Didcot, is developing a series of drugs called ImmTACs to treat cancer and viral disease.

It has struck a licensing agreement with biotech giant Genentech which will see it earn hundreds of millions of pounds over the coming years.

Under the terms of the deal, the firm, which currently employs 55 staff, will receive up to £13m for each treatment programme but will receive up to £200m in development and commercial payments along with royalties.

Chief executive James Noble said: “We are taking on 25 scientists and other staff this year and also taking on a new building at Milton Park. But I don’t think this will be the last deal we do as there has been substantial interest from other companies.”

The main advantage of the ImmTAC technology is that it specifically targets cancerous cells to deliver treatment, while avoiding healthy cells.

The most advanced application so far is a skin cancer treatment which is currently undergoing clinical trials, but others such as breast cancer and lung cancer are on the horizon.