TC Biopharm has partnered with Scotia Biologics to produce tumor-specific antibodies for a new generation of safer CAR-T therapies against multiple types of tumors as well as viral infections such as HIV.
The Scottish biotech TC Biopharm will be working with its new partner Scotia Biologics on the development of CAR-T therapy candidates against neuroblastoma, breast cancer, prostate cancer, lymphoblastic leukemia and HIV. Scotia will develop several single-chain antibodies designed to bind to specific tumor or viral antigens that TC Biopharm will then incorporate into its CAR-T cells.
CAR-T cells are a form of cell therapy in which T cells are engineered to find and attack specific antigens in tumor cells. The technology made it to the market less than a year ago with big promises for the treatment of cancer, but side effects remain a significant challenge.
TC Biopharm aims to reduce the side effects of CAR-T cells by using a specific type of T cells known as gamma-delta T cells. Unlike the T cells currently used for CAR-T, which are activated upon binding its target, gamma-delta T cells require the presence of a second molecule, called IPP, to become active. This strategy has the potential to reduce the off-tumor activation of CAR-T cells and therefore the toxicity of the therapy.
Mike Leek, CEO of TC Biopharm, believes that thanks to this strategy the company has the potential to address two key areas. The first is solid tumors, which have been a historical challenge for any form of cell therapy. The second is infectious diseases, with HIV and the Epstein-Barr virus as the first targets (EBV).
The antibodies developed by Scotia could also benefit a partnership that TC Biopharm signed with gene editing giant bluebird bio last December for the development of gamma-delta CAR-T cells. And Leek expects TC Biopharm to start testing its first CAR-T cells in humans by 2019.
Founded in 2013, TC Biopharm has rapidly grown and established itself in the young field of gamma-delta CAR-T cells, along with other companies like Gadeta or GammaDelta Therapeutics. If successful, this new generation of CAR-T cells might help us treat more types of cancer and even expand the use of this promising technology outside of oncology.
Images via Elpisterra, Andrii Bezvershenko /Shutterstock