Commence Bio has received a patent for STaRT 41 technology, a scientific platform underlying the production of MSC1 cells that work as a novel cancer immunotherapy.
STaRT (Stimulated Toll-like Receptor Technology) is inspired by the immune system’s natural responses. Specifically, STaRT 41 stimulates a key receptor linked to the immune system, called Toll-like receptor (TLR)-4, in naïve mesenchymal stem cells allowing them to reprogram into MSC1 cells that carry anti-tumor properties. MSC1 cells then migrate to the tumor site and, powered with pro-immune system boosting, they halt and reverse tumor growth.
“We’re happy to see MSC1 join other promising cellular immunotherapies in development — like CAR-T, NK, and dendritic cells. MSC1 cells are an important addition to the arsenal, as they can be used against solid tumors, have an excellent safety profile in pre-clinical models of disease, and can be available as an allogeneic, ‘off-the-shelf’ therapy,” said Thomas Isett, president and CEO of Commence, in a press release.
The company’s founder and Chief Science Officer Dr. Aline Betancourt, described a “part of the mechanism-of-action story” behind the innovative anti-cancer therapy.
“Selective stimulation of TLR4 yields a uniform MSC1 cell population with broad immunomodulatory properties. The potent anti-tumor action we observe is in part attributable to increased expression of pro-inflammatory cytokines like IL17, GM-CSF and the TRAIL molecule, along with the recruitment of inflammatory lymphocytes and mast cell degranulation in the tumor microenvironment,” she said.
The US patent (No. 9,321,994) includes all methods and necessary culture media required to induce a MSC1 phenotype from naïve mesenchymal stem cells, known for their inherent anti-inflammatory properties and intrinsic capacity to migrate towards sites of immune dysfunction.
“We’re confident that this is the first of many patents on STaRT, and the beginning of an extensive intellectual property portfolio that includes applications in human and veterinary medicine, stem cell research, and 3D bioprinting,” Isett said.
MSC1 showed as a safe, powerful and effective immunotherapy in previous pre-clinical studies for a list of diseases that include ovarian cancer, demyelinating diseases such as multiple sclerosis, acute lung injury, Crohn’s disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and diabetic neuropathic pain.