Genetically engineered immunotherapy developer Tmunity Therapeutics has brought on Immunocore’s Christina Coughlin to be its chief medical officer and executive vice president, as the company gears up to move its T-cell therapies through early stage studies targeting solid and liquid tumors.
While CMO of Immunocore, Coughlin helped develop novel, bispecific T cell receptor-based biologics for cancer immunotherapy, including a gp100-specific, TCR-bispecific program in uveal melanoma. At the Philadelphia-based Tmunity, she will help lead clinical development and regulatory affairs.
“In addition to her great immunotherapeutic industry knowledge, Chris will also fuse the research and translational capabilities that she developed when she was part of our team at UPenn,” said Carl June, director of the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy at the University of Pennsylvania and one of Tmunity’s scientific founders, who helped develop the first approved CAR-T therapy, Novartis’ Kymriah.
Earlier in her career, Coughlin worked as a physician-scientist at UPenn and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, where she studied under June. Currently, June and his team are running trials of a CAR-T and a CRISPR-edited T-cell receptor therapy.
She would go on to lead early development programs at Novartis, including in checkpoint and PI3K inhibitors, and serve as an international project team leader at Morphotek, a monoclonal antibody developer acquired by Eisai in 2007. She also held positions at Pfizer and Wyeth, and was made a fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine in London.
“Chris’ depth and breadth of experience in immunotherapeutic clinical development will be tremendously valuable to Tmunity,” Usman “Oz” Azam, Tmunity’s president and CEO, said in a statement.
Tmunity raised $135 million in series A financing earlier this year to support the clinical development of its T-cell based immunotherapies, and build out the necessary corporate and manufacturing infrastructure, with investments from the venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins, famous for backing successful West Coast tech companies including Amazon, Google and Twitter.
“The field has been validated with approved therapies for B cell malignancies, and the goal is to apply the technology and therapy to the treatment of solid tumors such as prostate, pancreatic, ovarian and other cancers that remain some of the toughest to cure,” Kleiner Perkins’ General Partner Beth Seidenberg said at the time.