The Cell Therapy Catapult, the UK organisation dedicated to the growth of the UK cell and gene therapy industry by bridging the gap between scientific research and commercialisation, the University of Birmingham and Cancer Research Technology, the commercialisation arm of Cancer Research UK, announces today the launch of a collaboration to develop a new immuno-oncology cellular therapy based on gene modifying T cells to target solid tumours.
The project is aimed at translating an academic discovery programme funded by Cancer Research UK and developed by Dr Steven Lee and Prof Roy Bicknell at the University of Birmingham into a commercially viable cell therapy.
The collaborating partners have launched a new company, Chimeric Therapeutics Ltd. This new company will hold all future IP rights to the resultant discoveries.
The project is based on a new generation chimeric antigen receptor T-Cell (CAR-T) immuno-oncology therapy for solid tumours. This involves directing the CAR-T cell towards a new, highly specific marker of tumour angiogenesis, CLEC14a. This therapy will act as a vasculature disruptive agent compromising oxygen supply to the tumours and inhibiting tumour growth. The technology is currently undergoing the final stages of preclinical development, and is planned to enter into clinical trials soon after.
Cancer Research Technology and the University of Birmingham have partnered with the Cell Therapy Catapult to bring their extensive regulatory, clinical, analytical and manufacturing process development expertise into the program, utilising their experience in developing immunotherapies for cancer. The Cell Therapy Catapult will specifically be involved in the project to accelerate the translation of the academic discoveries made in Birmingham with Cancer Research Technology around CAR-T immunotherapies for solid tumours and the CLEC14a target towards a commercially available cell therapy.
"The Cell Therapy Catapult has extensive experience in working with early stage cell and gene therapies to develop them for clinical trial and commercialisation. We are delighted to assist Cancer Research Technology and Birmingham University to form this new company, Chimeric Technologies and apply this new CAR-T target to address solid tumours for the benefit of patients," said Keith Thompson, CEO, the Cell Therapy Catapult. "The Cell Therapy Catapult look forward to developing partnerships with other Cancer Research UK supported academic groups."
"Scientists at University of Birmingham have demonstrated that these new engineered CAR-T cells exhibit anti-tumour effects and therefore have considerable potential as a therapy," said David Coleman, Head of Spinout Portfolio, University of Birmingham. "We're delighted to be working with Cancer Research Technology and the Cell Therapy Catapult, through this new spinout company, Chimeric Therapeutics Limited, in order to develop the technology further and into clinical trials."
Dr Phil L'Huillier, Cancer Research Technology's director of business development, said: "We're very pleased to partner with the Cell Therapy Catapult and bring their extensive experience to bear on this project. This new partnership builds on a very successful relationship with the University of Birmingham. Immunotherapy is an exciting area in cancer treatment and this technology could provide a powerful route to harness the power of the immune system to block the development of blood vessels, and stop tumours growing."