PureTech Health has launched Vor BioPharma, an immuno-oncology firm that is focused on developing a novel class of targeted cell therapies.
Vor BioPharma was co-founded by Siddhartha Mukherjee, an assistant professor of Medicine at Columbia University in New York, who is working on a new approach to chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy. The company has licensed its core technology from Dr. Mukherjee’s lab.
“CAR T-cell therapies have shown remarkable progress in the clinic, yet their applicability beyond a small subset of cancers is currently very limited,” Sanjiv Sam Gambhir, MD, PhD, a Vor Scientific Advisory Board member, said in a press release. “This technology seeks to address bottlenecks that prevent CAR T-cell therapy from becoming more broadly useful in treating cancers outside of B-cell cancers.” Dr. Gambhir is also chair of the Department of Radiology, director of the Canary Center for Cancer Early Detection, and director of the Molecular Imaging Program at Stanford University.
Recent decades have seen significant advances in the modulation of a patient’s immune system to fight cancer. Immunotherapeutic approaches such as CAR T-cell therapy are designed to strengthen the immune system’s anti-tumor defenses. The CAR itself is a combination of an antibody and the signaling portion of a T-cell receptor. T-cells removed from a patient, engineered to express a tumor-specific CAR, are infused back into the patient with the goal killing cancer cells.
These methodologies have focused on targeting markers present on healthy and cancerous B-cells, and CAR is considered a promising therapy for patients with advanced B-cell leukemias. Vor BioPharma is developing a method of CAR T-cell therapy that aims to expand its applicability to other cancers, especially those with restricted therapeutic options.
“We continue to make great strides in developing new ways to treat cancer using the body’s immune system,” said Dr. Mukherjee. “The positive clinical response researchers have achieved with CAR T-cell therapies in B-cell leukemias has led to great interest within the oncology community and is something we hope to achieve in other cancers over time.”
Vor’s scientific founders and Scientific Advisory Board members also include:
- Joseph Bolen, PhD – former president and chief scientific officer of Moderna Therapeutics, he is both a board member and the company’s acting chief scientific officer
- Dan Littman, MD, PhD – a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator, the Helen L. and Martin S. Kimmel professor of Molecular Immunology, and a professor of Pathology and Microbiology at New York University’s School of Medicine
- Derrick J. Rossi, PhD – an associate professor in the Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology Department at Harvard Medical School and Harvard University
“PureTech is excited to be collaborating with Sid Mukherjee and to have the support of a world-class team of immunologists and oncologists,” said David Steinberg, executive vice president of PureTech Health and co-founder of Vor BioPharma. “We look forward to advancing this technology that has the potential to expand immuno-oncology to currently untreatable, fatal malignancies.”