Spinout News / UCLB News

UCL, Imperial & Cell Therapy Catapult collaborate to advance leukaemia cell therapy

20 May 2014

A novel cell therapy approach to the treatment of acute myeloid leukaemia is to be developed further via an innovative partnership between the Cell Therapy Catapult, which is focused on the development of the UK cell therapy industry to increase the nation’s health and wealth, UCL Business (UCLB) and Imperial Innovations. The new therapy was developed initially at Imperial College and then at UCL by scientists funded by the charity Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research. It targets disorders associated with overexpression of the WT1 antigen, such as acute myeloid leukaemia and myelodysplastic syndrome. As part of the deal, the Cell Therapy Catapult will work to accelerate the delivery of Phase I/II clinical trials.

To expedite this exciting new therapy, UCLB, Imperial Innovations and the Cell Therapy Catapult have formed a joint venture, Catapult Therapy TCR Limited, which will assume responsibility for its further development. The technology transfer companies have contributed their relevant patents and know-how to Catapult Therapy TCR Limited, and will be eligible for late-stage development milestones and royalties as the therapy progresses. The Cell Therapy Catapult will invest up to £10m to take the therapy into and through Phase II trials, providing a full range of expertise including manufacturing development and clinical trial sponsorship.

The product is a gene-modified T-cell receptor therapy targeting WT1-overexpressing cells, with potential in the treatment of acute myeloid leukaemia and haematological disorders such as myelodysplastic syndrome. It involves modification by gene therapy of the patient’s T cells, so that they recognise and destroy WT1-expressing cells when infused back into the body. The clinical trials are expected to enrol their first subjects in 2015. Manufacture is being undertaken at the world-leading UCL Institute of Child Health/Great Ormond Street Hospital cell therapy production unit led by Professor Adrian Thrasher and Dr Waseem Qasim.

Keith Thompson, CEO of the Cell Therapy Catapult, said, ‘We are very excited to be driving the advance of this important immune therapy with the potential to bring significant benefit to patients. The collaboration and formation of the new company is a great example of the way in which the Cell Therapy Catapult can catalyse the progress of innovative cell therapies towards commercialisation, helping create a vibrant cell therapy industry in the UK.’

Dr Emma Morris, UCL clinical academic, Chief Investigator & co-inventor, said, ‘This partnership with the Cell Therapy Catapult and others will help us deliver this promising new therapy to patients in the UK, more quickly.

Tony Hickson, Managing Director, Technology Transfer at Imperial Innovations, said, ‘We are delighted to be working with UCLB and the Cell Therapy Catapult to support the development of this innovative cell therapy and look forward to seeing it progress in the clinic.

Dr Anne Lane, Executive Director of UCLB, commented ‘We are delighted to be working with Imperial Innovations and Cell Therapy Catapult on this ground-breaking treatment for cancer, accelerating its development through clinical trials towards patient benefit. Professor Hans Stauss devised this technology at Imperial College and it was further developed at UCL in collaboration with Dr Emma Morris through funding from Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.

Professor Chris Bunce, Research Director at Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research, said, ‘Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research has funded this highly promising cell-based immune therapy from its development in the laboratory to the transition into clinical trials. The Cell Therapy Catapult’s investment to accelerate this trial is great news for patients with these hard-to-treat blood cancers, who often do not respond to traditional drugs like chemotherapy.

For more information, please contact:
Cell Therapy Catapult
Keith Thompson, CEO
+44 (0) 203 728 9500

Emma Palmer Foster, Strategic Communications Consultant
+44 (0) 7880 787185

Imperial Innovations
Gavin Reed – +44 (0) 203 053 8820 – gavin.reed@imperialinnovations.co.uk

Harry Dayantis, Media Relations Manager
+44 (0) 203 108 3844
+44 (0) 7747 565056

Emma Alam
+44 (0) 207 679 9798
+44 (0) 7896 058667

Henry Winter
+44  (0) 207 269 9019
+44  (0) 7824 375880

About the Cell Therapy Catapult
The Cell Therapy Catapult is a centre of translational excellence for cell therapy and regenerative medicine. Its vision is for the UK to be a global leader in the development, delivery and commercialisation of cell therapy, making it a location for business start-up and growth.  Based in London at Guy’s Hospital, the centre takes products into early clinical trials, providing clinical, technical, manufacturing and regulatory expertise and access to the NHS. There is a focus on collaboration and lowering barriers to investment and funding, and operations have grown rapidly since inception. UK Trade & Investment has valued the global regenerative medicine industry at just over £500 million, and estimates that it will be generating revenues of over £5 billion by 2021.

For more information, go to ct.catapult.org.uk

About Catapults
Established by the UK Technology Strategy Board, the Catapults are a network of seven technology and innovation centres covering a range of sectors including: High Value Manufacturing, Satellite Applications, Cell Therapy, Offshore Renewable Energy, Future Cities, Transport Systems and the Connected Digital Economy. Two more are in the pipeline – Energy Systems and Precision Medicine – and these are due to open in 2015. The existing centres are making significant progress, attracting new investments, forging strong partnerships in their sectors and engaging with thousands of businesses large and small. The total public and private sector investment in Catapults will £1.4 billion over the first five years.

About the Technology Strategy Board
The Technology Strategy Board is the UK’s innovation agency. Its goal is to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation. Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the Technology Strategy Board brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy.

For more information, please visit: www.innovateuk.org

About Imperial Innovations
Imperial Innovations creates, builds and invests in pioneering technologies developed from the academic research of the UK’s four leading Universities. The Group supports scientists and entrepreneurs in the commercialisation of their ideas and intellectual property by leading the formation of new companies, providing facilities in the early stages, providing investment and encouraging co-investment to accelerate development, providing operational expertise and recruiting high-calibre management teams. It also runs an Incubator in London that is the initial home for many of its technology spin-outs. Originally formed as the Technology Transfer office for Imperial College – a role it still carries out today, Innovations also invests in opportunities arising from intellectual property developed at, or associated with, Cambridge University, Oxford University and University College London.  These are the top four research intensive universities in Europe with a research income of over £1.3 billion per annum. Innovations invests in the most promising opportunities from whichever technology sector they arise, but has built particular expertise in the key sectors of: therapeutics, medtech, engineering and materials, and ICT. Since listing in 2006, Innovations has invested a total of £160.9 million across its portfolio companies, which have raised collectively investment of over £750.0 million. Innovations’ largest holding is in Circassia Pharmaceuticals, which listed on the London Stock Exchange main market in March 2014 with a market capitalisation of £581.0 million. 

For more information, please visit: www.imperialinnovations.co.uk

About UCL Business PLC
UCL Business PLC (UCLB) is a leading technology transfer company that supports and commercialises research and innovations arising from UCL, one of the UK’s top research-led universities. UCLB has a successful track record and a strong reputation for identifying and protecting promising new technologies and innovations from UCL academics. UCLB has a strong track record in commercialising medical technologies and provides technology transfer services to UCL’s associated hospitals; University College London Hospitals, Moorfields Eye Hospital, Great Ormond Street Hospital for Children and the Royal Free London Hospital. It invests directly in development projects to maximise the potential of the research and manages the commercialisation process of technologies from laboratory to market.

For further information, please visit: www.uclb.com

 About Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research
Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research is a leading UK charity dedicated to improving the lives of patients with all types of blood cancer, including leukaemia, lymphoma and myeloma. Its life-saving work is focused on finding causes, improving diagnosis and treatments, and running groundbreaking clinical trials for all blood cancer patients. The charity champions patients’ needs by influencing relevant policy and decision makers. Its communities give blood cancer patients and their families a place where they can find support and information and share their journey with other people who can relate to what they are going through. Around 30,000 people of all ages, from children to adults, are diagnosed with blood cancer every year in the UK.

For more information, visit: beatingbloodcancers.org.uk