Repertoire Immune Medicines

A newly combined pair of biotechs aim to DECODE a host of diseases. (Repertoire Immune Medicines)

Repertoire Immune Medicines

This Cambridge biotech is tapping decoding technologies to characterize the immune synapse and beat a host of diseases

CEO: John Cox

Founded: 2020 (as the combined company)

Based: Cambridge, Massachusetts

Clinical focus: The biotech is focused on a series of diseases, including different types of cancers and infections as well as address the underlying causes for a number of autoimmune disorders.

The scoop: Repertoire Immune Medicines is tapping its unique platform, which allows it to “see” the codes a T cell sees when it recognizes intracellular antigens or pathogens. With these codes, it is then able to direct the T cell to activate against disease. In other words, the biotech believes it can decipher the immune synapse to discover the intracellular antigens associated with many diseases.

What makes Repertoire fierce: Flagship Pioneering created Repertoire last March by combining two of its portfolio companies: Cogen Immune Medicines and Torque Therapeutics, coming together to work on the so-called DECODE technologies platform.

The VC shop oversaw the merger to bring together the immune decoding and immuno-oncology platforms that underpinned Cogen and Torque, respectively, and put former Bioverativ CEO John Cox in charge of the combined company.

In April of this year, it grabbed a major series B round worth $189 million to support the next stage of the company's development. Repertoire framed the financing primarily in the context of what it will mean for the DECODE technologies it has developed to characterize the immune synapse, the molecular interactions underlying the regulation of the body's immune response.

The technologies have already spawned a clinical-phase candidate, RPTR-147. Repertoire makes the candidate by activating T cells to attack a set of tumor-associated antigens (TAAs) and arming them with IL-15, a cytokine that boosts the growth of natural killer cells. RPTR-147 has shown signs of efficacy in a phase 1 trial of patients with solid tumors.

A second trial is now enrolled for another candidate, RPTR-168, Cox tells Fierce Biotech. The drug targets five TAAs and is tethered with IL-12. This phase 1 study is evaluating dose escalation in patients with HPV-positive head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, cervical cancer or malignant melanoma.

Cox says that cancer is the early focus but it’s not a one-target biotech. “If we can deliver treatments to patients living with cancer that would be incredibly fulfilling,” he explains. “But our goal is much bigger and it is rooted in the belief that if we can understand how the immune system instructs T cells to react to antigens, and then identify those T cells and their antigen targets, we can create treatments that will do the same for many different diseases including cancers, autoimmune and infectious diseases.”

Up until now, these targets have been untapped because they could not be precisely pinned down.

“That’s why we developed our DECODE platform,” Cox says. “We now have the capability – much like mapping the human genome – to identify these intracellular targets, which could lead to new medicines.”

The goal is to identify targets using DECODE and then select the best therapeutic modalities to address the true underlying cause of the disease. For instance, in cancer, the biotech is using T cells activated to target tumor types armed with cytokines intended to boost their efficacy.

“But for an autoimmune disease, we would want to regulate the immune system, which requires a different modality,” Cox said. The company now has around $350 million in the bank although Cox declined to discuss potential IPO plans.

COVID-19 has been a challenge but one Cox believes the biotech has matched. “Our entire team has shown incredible focus during this time in their execution and their commitment. Some of the lab-based team returned to the office early in the pandemic. Since then, more staff have returned and we also have many who are working remotely or utilizing a hybrid approach to returning to the office.”

Many biopharmas are issuing vaccine mandates for employees, but Cox says the company is “encouraging everyone to receive a COVID vaccination but we are not mandating it.” More than 95% of Repertoire's workers are vaccinated, he adds.

As well as its main offices in Cambridge, Massachusetts, it also has a base in Zurich, Switzerland, with more than 150 staffers. “Our team is growing,” Cox says. “We expect that growth to continue over the next 18 months.”

Investors: Flagship Pioneering, Softbank Vision Fund 2i, the Public Sector Pension Investment Board (PSP Investments), the Alaska Permanent Fund, Invus.

Repertoire Immune Medicines