Cell Medica and UCL collaborate to develop modified T cell receptor products for the treatment of cancer

24 August 2016

Cell Medica, a leader in developing, marketing and manufacturing cellular therapeutics for cancer and infections, has signed a research collaboration with UCL (University College London) aiming to utilize UCL’s novel T cell receptor (TCR) technology to generate leading-edge modified TCR products for the treatment of cancer.

The collaboration also provides Cell Medica with an exclusive worldwide option and license agreement for these technologies as well as TCR gene sequences for the development and commercialisation of specific products. The collaboration will build on the research of Professor Hans Stauss and Professor Emma Morris of UCL, global leaders in developing modified TCRs for cancer treatments.

T cell receptors are molecules found on the surface of T cells which recognise antigens expressed by cancer cells. TCR technology exploits the ability of TCRs to target both intracellular and cell surface antigens, providing an important mechanism to engineer immune cells to target tumors. The UCL TCR technology has the potential to produce strong expression of TCRs by the engineered T cells which is expected to improve their efficacy in fighting tumors.

Collaboration structure
The collaboration will accelerate the pioneering work performed at the UCL Institute of Immunity and Transplantation (IIT) with grant support from Bloodwise, Medical Research Council and National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The work is led by Professor Hans Stauss, Director of the IIT, and Professor Emma Morris, Director of the Infection, Immunity and Inflammation research theme at the NIHR University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre, both based at the Royal Free Hospital, a UCL Partners academic health science center.

UCL will conduct the preclinical and early clinical research under the guidance of a Joint Steering Committee. Cell Medica will support the product development work with its substantial experience in manufacturing clinical-grade cell therapies and establishing robust production processes suitable for industrial scale-up. Following completion of successful first-in-man studies, the products will transfer to Cell Medica for later-stage clinical development and commercialization.

License, option and sponsored research agreement
Cell Medica has entered into an exclusive license and option agreement with UCL Business, the technology commercialisation company of UCL, for the dominant TCR platform patent and two target antigens. As part of this agreement, both parties can bring targets or platform technologies to the collaboration, aiming to generate leading-edge modified TCR products. In addition, UCL and Cell Medica have signed a Sponsored Research Agreement under which Cell Medica will fund all research and development with an exclusive option to license all products developed within the collaboration.

Cell Medica has paid an up-front fee and will make additional payments to exercise its exclusive option to license future products. UCL is eligible to receive further payments related to clinical, regulatory and sales milestones, as well as single digit royalties.

Gregg Sando, CEO of Cell Medica said: “This collaboration adds the modified TCR technology platform to our strategy to develop breakthrough treatments for cancer using cellular immunotherapy products. The partnership with Profs Hans Stauss and Emma Morris, leading researchers in this field, should enable us to generate a pipeline of new TCR products with increased efficacy and safety for patients.”

Professor Hans Stauss, Director of the Institute of Immunity and Transplantation at the Royal Free Hospital, a UCL Partners academic health science centre, said: “This collaboration provides an exciting opportunity to move our TCR gene therapy technologies more effectively towards clinical application. We are grateful to the blood cancer charity Bloodwise, who have provided important long-term support for our work. The new collaboration with Cell Medica enables us to take full advantage of our pre-clinical research and rapidly develop novel TCRs for the treatment of patients with cancer”

Professor Emma Morris, Director of the Infection, Immunity and Inflammation research theme at the National Institute for Health Research University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre, and Professor of Clinical Cell and Gene Therapy said: “As a clinician treating patients with blood cancers, I am aware of the urgent need to develop more effective and less toxic therapies. Immunotherapy with gene-modified immune cells has enormous potential to transform the lives of cancer patients. It is truly exciting to be supported by Cell Medica to accelerate our progress in developing new therapies.”

Dr Alasdair Rankin, Research Director at Bloodwise, said: “Having supported the UCL team’s work for many years, it is exciting to see their hugely promising research reach this stage. This important collaboration is a vital step in the development of new treatments that could have a significant impact on outlook for many patients.”

For further information, please contact:
Gregg Sando (Chief Executive Officer, Cell Medica Limited)
+44 (0)20 7554 4070

About Cell Medica
Cell Medica develops, manufactures and markets cellular immunotherapy products for the treatment of cancer and infections.  The Company employs leading-edge technologies to develop cell-based therapies with the potential to transform the lives of cancer patients in the years ahead.   The Company’s lead oncology product, baltaleucel-T, is aimed at a range of cancers associated with the oncogenic Epstein Barr virus (EBV), including non-Hodgkin lymphomas, Hodgkin lymphoma and nasopharyngeal carcinoma.  This novel cancer immunotherapy is currently under study in an international Phase II clinical trial (CITADEL) for the treatment of advanced NK/T cell lymphoma.  Cell Medica is working in collaboration with the Baylor College of Medicine on the development of baltaleucel-T with funding provided in part by the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas. Cell Medica recently announced an important expansion of its collaboration with Baylor College of Medicine to include the development of next-generation cellular immunotherapies incorporating chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) with genetically enhanced potency for the treatment of cancers that do not respond to conventional therapies.  In addition to its oncology programmes, Cell Medica is marketing Cytovir CMV for the treatment of cytomegalovirus infections and developing Cytovir ADV for the treatment of adenovirus infections. Both products are for the treatment and prevention of viral infections in patients who are profoundly immunosuppressed following a bone marrow transplant.

Additional information can be found at www.cellmedica.co.uk.

About UCL (University College London)
UCL was founded in 1826. It was the first English university established after Oxford and Cambridge, the first to open up university education to those previously excluded from it, and the first to provide systematic teaching of law, architecture and medicine. It is among the world’s top universities, as reflected by performance in a range of international rankings and tables. UCL currently has over 35,000 students from 150 countries and over 11,000 staff. Our annual income is more than £1 billion.

www.ucl.ac.uk – Follow UCL on Twitter @uclnews – Watch the UCL YouTube channel YouTube.com/UCLTV

About 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 – Twitter: @UCL_Business

About the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR)
The NIHR is funded by the Department of Health to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. The NIHR is the research arm of the NHS. Since its establishment in April 2006, the NIHR has transformed research in the NHS. It has increased the volume of applied health research for the benefit of patients and the public, driven faster translation of basic science discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and the economy, and developed and supported the people who conduct and contribute to applied health research. The NIHR plays a key role in the Government’s strategy for economic growth, attracting investment by the life-sciences industries through its world-class infrastructure for health research. Together, the NIHR people, programmes, centres of excellence and systems represent the most integrated health research system in the world.

For further information, visit the NIHR website: www.nihr.ac.uk.

About MRC
The Medical Research Council is at the forefront of scientific discovery to improve human health. Founded in 1913 to tackle tuberculosis, the MRC now invests taxpayers’ money in some of the best medical research in the world across every area of health. Thirty-one MRC-funded researchers have won Nobel prizes in a wide range of disciplines, and MRC scientists have been behind such diverse discoveries as vitamins, the structure of DNA and the link between smoking and cancer, as well as achievements such as pioneering the use of randomised controlled trials, the invention of MRI scanning, and the development of a group of antibodies used in the making of some of the most successful drugs ever developed. Today, MRC-funded scientists tackle some of the greatest health problems facing humanity in the 21st century, from the rising tide of chronic diseases associated with ageing to the threats posed by rapidly mutating micro-organisms.

For further information, visit: www.mrc.ac.uk