Three research centers in the U.K. are collaborating to advance academic discoveries into commercially viable immuno-oncology cellular therapy. The centers — Cancer Research Technology, Cancer Research UK’s commercialization arm; Cell Therapy Catapult, an organization working to move cell and gene therapy from academia to industry; and the University of Birmingham — will jointly investigate cell therapies based on gene-modifying T cells targeting solid tumors.
The three recently launched a new company with all future IP rights to the resulting discoveries, called Chimeric Therapeutics Ltd.
The venture is grounded on a new-generation chimeric antigen receptor T cell (CAR-T), directed toward a new and highly specific marker of CLEC14a tumor angiogenesis. The therapy acts as a vasculature disruptive agent that compromises the tumors’ oxygen supply, inhibiting growth. The approach is expected to enter into clinical trials as soon as preclinical development is finished.
“Scientists at University of Birmingham have demonstrated that these new engineered CAR-T cells exhibit anti-tumor effects and therefore have considerable potential as a therapy,” David Coleman, head of Spin-out Portfolio at the University of Birmingham, said in a press release. “We’re delighted to be working with Cancer Research Technology and the Cell Therapy Catapult, through this new spin-out company, Chimeric Therapeutics Limited, in order to develop the technology further and into clinical trials.”
Cell Therapy Catapult’s participation is expected to accelerate the translation of the academic discoveries, made at Birmingham with Cancer Research Technology, around CAR-T immuno-therapies for solid tumors and the CLEC14a target into a market-ready therapy.
“The Cell Therapy Catapult has extensive experience in working with early stage cell and gene therapies to develop them for clinical trial and commercialization. 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 tumors for the benefit of patients,” said Cell Therapy Catapult’s CEO, Keith Thompson.
The project will be funded by Cancer Research UK. The potential therapeutic approach was developed by Dr. Steven Lee and Professor Roy Bicknell at the University of Birmingham.
Dr. Phill L’Huillier, director of Business Development at Cancer Research Technology, added, “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. Immuno-therapy 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 tumors growing.”