Proof-of-concept study with major US cancer centre has the potential to open up highly valuable licensing and partnering opportunities
Avacta Group, the developer of Affimer biotherapeutics and research reagents, has announced a research collaboration with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) to evaluate the use of Avacta’s Affimer technology in novel CAR-T cell-based immunotherapy.
CAR-T immunotherapy is a form of cancer treatment in which the patient’s own immune system T cells are modified to give them greater potency with which to attack cancer cells. Treatments using these engineered immune cells have generated promising responses in patients with advanced cancers and CAR-T immunotherapy has become an intense area of research, clinical development and investment.
The simple structure and biophysical properties of Affimers potentially provide significant advantages compared with antibody fragment technology currently used in CAR-T cell modification and the collaboration is intended to demonstrate a new class of CAR-T cell therapy that incorporate Affimer molecules.
The collaboration will be led by Renier J. Brentjens, MD, PhD, Director of Cellular Oncology at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York.
As part of the collaboration, Avacta will develop Affimer molecules that bind different regions of CD19, a surface protein specific to B-cells involved in lymphomas. Dr Brentjens’ team will construct CAR-T cells incorporating these Affimer molecules and test their anti-tumour function in vitro and in in vivo animal efficacy models.
Under the terms of the agreement the ownership of the results generated directly as part of this collaboration will be shared between Avacta and MSK.
Dr Alastair Smith, Chief Executive Officer, Avacta, commented: 'CAR-T cell therapy is an emerging and very exciting area of immuno-oncology that holds enormous clinical potential. We are delighted to be working with a world-leading team in the field to demonstrate the benefits that Affimer technology could bring to CAR-T therapy.'
'The generation of positive data in these validated models of disease has the potential to open up highly valuable licensing and partnering opportunities for Avacta in this therapy area which has attracted so much attention in the past couple of years,' he added.