Scottish immunotherapy company TC BioPharm (TCB) has announced it has signed an agreement to work alongside clinical academics at University College London (UCL). The agreement will see TCB and UCL progressing innovative gene-modified T cell therapies capable of treating childhood and adult cancers of the blood such as acute myeloid leukemia (AML). In the UK alone this disease affects over 3,000 new patients annually.
At UCL’s Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, a pioneering research team led by Professor John Anderson and Dr Jonathan Fisher has developed a new chimeric antigen receptor therapy (CAR-T), which significantly enhances the innate ability of gamma-delta T cells to attack blood cancers such as AML. They are doing so by targeting CD33, a cancer antigen highly expressed in AML. This key intellectual property has been licensed to TCB by UCL Business (UCL’s technology commercialisation company) to further strengthen TCB’s IP position in the gamma-delta CAR-T space.
Novel cancer treatments, such as CAR-Ts, are generating interest based on recent encouraging clinical data. CAR-T treatment involves removal of a patient’s white blood cells, insertion of a gene which targets a specific cancer antigen/type, followed by re-injection of the cells primed to attack the tumour. Harnessing the innate anti-cancer properties of gamma-delta T cells, TCB has developed an innovative, safe CAR-T therapy which overcomes toxic side effects seen with other treatments.
Working with UK-based cancer-research hematologists, TCB and the UCL clinical academics aim to bring next-generation safe CAR-T technology to patients during 2018. Work is ongoing at TCB’s cleanroom facility in Scotland to manufacture a GMP-compliant CD33 CAR-T product.
Professor Anderson of UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health said: “I welcome the opportunity to work with TC-Biopharm. Together we are committed to accelerate the translation of new cancer immunotherapies to the clinic.”
Dr Fisher, Wellcome Trust clinical postdoctoral fellow, UCL Great Ormond Street Institute of Child Health, commented: “This is an exciting opportunity to open a new avenue in cellular immunotherapy, with the aim of making it safer and more targeted.”
Cengiz Tarhan, managing director, UCL Business, added: “Therapies combining gamma-delta T cells with CARs have an enormous potential to transform the lives of cancer patients, and the expertise of UCL Professor John Anderson and Dr. Jonathan Fisher will enable this novel approach to be rapidly developed to treat AML.”
Commenting on the collaboration with UCL, Dr Michael Leek, chief executive at TCB, said: “I’m delighted and excited to be working with Professor Anderson and Dr Fisher. Their passion and innovative vision of treating cancer patients using novel CAR-T therapies is perfectly aligned with TCB’s goal of improving patient heath and quality of life. Having established a robust intellectual property platform, TCB will develop a range of safe and effective CAR-T products which harness the innate ability of gamma-deltas to target and kill cells transformed by cancer.”