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Cell and gene therapy catapult announces cell medica acquisition of WT1 T-cell therapy

20 June 2017

  • Acquisition transfers intellectual property and commercialisation rights to promising cancer immunotherapy
  • Further development will take place at the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult UK manufacturing centreThe Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult (CGT Catapult) today announced the sale of its subsidiary, Catapult Therapy TCR Ltd, to Cell Medica. The CGT Catapult, through Catapult Therapy TCR Ltd, has been developing and conducting phase I/II clinical trials of a gene-modified T cell therapy that actively targets several blood cancers and multiple solid tumours. Financial terms were not disclosed.Catapult Therapy TCR Ltd is a joint venture company set up by the CGT Catapult, UCL Business (UCLB) and Imperial Innovations which focused on the development of a gene-modified WT1 TCR T cell therapy for acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) and myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) that are known to overexpress the antigen WT1. It represents a promising novel treatment approach in a therapeutic area where prognosis is often poor and therapeutic options limited. Early development work on this therapy conducted at UCL and Imperial was funded by the UK charity Bloodwise. The WT1 antigen is also present on a large variety of solid tumours, giving this treatment very broad therapeutic potential.The acquisition of Catapult Therapy TCR Ltd by Cell Medica will enable and accelerate the further development and commercialisation of this innovative treatment in one of the most promising areas of cancer immunotherapy. The optimisation and development of next-generation T cells will be conducted by Cell Medica and CGT Catapult and manufacturing will take place at CGT Catapult’s large-scale cell and gene therapy manufacturing centre located at the Stevenage BioScience Catalyst in Hertfordshire, following a grant awarded earlier this year by Innovate UK.

    We are pleased that Cell Medica has acquired the WT1 T-cell immunotherapy,” said Keith Thompson, Chief Executive Officer, Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult. “With their complementary technologies, they will take over the development of this exciting new therapy. The next generation product developed in our manufacturing centre underlines our ability to support the localisation of cell manufacturing processes in the UK. It reflects the CGT Catapult’s mission to work with academia and industry in bringing forward important new technologies that can be industrialised and turned into the advanced medicines of the future, building new industries.

    Immuno-oncology is an expanding discipline representing the next generation of cancer treatments, and WT1 has shown excellent results so far. We are delighted to have created this opportunity with our academic partners UCLB and Imperial Innovations.

    Gregg Sando, Chief Executive Officer, Cell Medica, said: “The acquisition of the WT1-TCR cell therapy leverages the investment we made in 2016 for exclusive rights to the Dominant TCR technology. Our objective is to show how we can enhance any existing TCR cell therapy with the Dominant TCR technology to create a more effective treatment for patients with solid tumours who otherwise have a very poor prognosis. We are also looking forward to an important collaboration with CGT Catapult to initiate manufacturing at the Stevenage GMP facility where we will work together on scale-up strategies for commercial production.

    Catapult Therapy TCR Ltd academic partners highlighted the relevance of T-cell immunotherapy to future cancer therapy options.

    Gene-modified T cells targeting WT1 have enormous potential to transform the lives of cancer patients, and the expertise of UCL Professors Hans Stauss and Emma Morris have enabled this innovative treatment to evolve,” said Cengiz Tarhan, Managing Director, UCL Business. “Cell Medica is excellently placed to further develop this novel treatment approach.

    Tony Hickson, Managing Director, Imperial Innovations Limited, said: “This project provides a case study of two leading UK universities working together alongside a Catapult to translate their high quality research outputs into clinical stage advanced therapeutics.

    About the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult
    The Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult was established as an independent centre of excellence to advance the growth of the UK cell and gene therapy industry, by bridging the gap between scientific research and full-scale commercialisation. With more than 120 employees focusing on cell and gene therapy technologies, it works with partners in academia and industry to ensure these life-changing therapies can be developed for use in health services throughout the world. It offers leading-edge capability, technology and innovation to enable companies to take products into clinical trials and provide clinical, process development, manufacturing, regulatory, health economics and market access expertise. Its aim is to make the UK the most compelling and logical choice for UK and international partners to develop and commercialise these advanced therapies. The Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult works with Innovate UK.

    For more information please visit ct.catapult.org.uk or visit www.gov.uk/innovate-uk.

    About Cell Medica
    Cell Medica is committed to transforming patients’ lives through developing the significant therapeutic potential of cellular immunotherapy for the treatment of cancer. In collaboration with our strategic partners, Cell Medica is developing a range of products using three proprietary technology platforms including activated T cells, chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) and engineered T cell receptors (TCRs). Our lead product is CMD-003 is being tested in an international Phase II trial for the treatment of cancers associated with the oncogenic Epstein Barr virus. We are working with the Baylor College of Medicine to develop next generation CAR-modified NKT cells including an off-the-shelf product. In the field of engineered TCRs, we are collaborating with University College to develop the Dominant TCR technology platform. Cell Medica is headquartered in London with subsidiaries in Zurich and Houston.

    For further information please contact:
    FTI Consulting for the CGT Catapult
    Con Franklin +44 (0) 203 319 5560 / con.franklin@fticonsulting.com
    Michael Trace +44 (0) 203 319 5674 / michael.trace@fticonsulting.com