Just two months after signing a CAR-T deal with Baylor, London-based Cell Medica has penned a new pact with University College London (UCL) to use its T-cell tech to help create new, cutting-edge meds for cancer.
Under the terms of the collab, which isn’t disclosing any financial details, Cell Medica also gets an exclusive, worldwide option and license agreement for these technologies, as well as T cell receptor (TCR) gene sequences for the development and sale of specific products.
The deal will build on the research of Professor Hans Stauss and Professor Emma Morris of UCL, two big names in developing modified TCRs against oncology targets.
T cell receptors are molecules which sit on the surface of T cells. They work by recognizing antigens expressed by cancer cells.
What TCR technology does is to use this ability to target both intracellular and cell surface antigens, creating a mechanism to engineer immune cells to target certain tumors. UCL’s tech, according to a joint statement, has the potential to “produce strong expression of TCRs by the engineered T cells,” which should boost its killing range when it comes to fighting tumors.
The University will carry out the preclinical and early clinical research under the auspices of a Joint Steering Committee.
Cell Medica said it will support the product development work with its “substantial experience in manufacturing clinical-grade cell therapies” while looking to also establish “robust production processes” suitable for industrial scale-up.
If and when a drug or drugs from the collab has finished up in Phase I, these treatments will then be handed over to Cell Medica for Phase II and beyond, including bringing them to market.
While not going into the exact figures, Cell Medica said has paid an up-front fee and “will make additional payments to exercise its exclusive option to license future products.” UCL, meanwhile, is eligible to receive further payments related to clinical, regulatory and sales milestones, as well as single digit royalties.
Gregg Sando, CEO of Cell Medica said: “This collaboration adds the modified TCR technology platform to our strategy to develop breakthrough treatments for cancer using cellular immunotherapy products. The partnership with Profs Hans Stauss and Emma Morris, leading researchers in this field, should enable us to generate a pipeline of new TCR products with increased efficacy and safety for patients.”
Cell Medica, one of last year’s Fierce 15, also has an ongoing pact with Houston’s Baylor College of Medicine to find and develop next-gen tech for engineering immune cells in tumors.
In June they signed an expanded deal to apply CAR technology to natural killer T (NKT) cells as a novel immune cell type with biological properties that may be particularly effective for targeting solid tumors.
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