Cell Medica will begin manufacturing WT1-TCR cell therapy for solid tumors that have been difficult to treat with conventional therapies, such as mesothelioma and ovarian cancer. Cell Medica is planning to initiate a Phase 1/2 trial using a Dominant WT1-TCR version of the product in late 2018.
WT1-TCR cell therapy involves taking a patient’s own immune cells and modifying them so that they mount a response against tumor cells with a protein called Wilms’ tumor gene 1 (WT1). The WT1 protein is present in 75 percent of mesotheliomas and in 93 percent of ovarian serous carcinomas. TCRs are T-cell receptors, proteins that can single out specific targets, found on the surfaces of T-cells.
The therapy was first developed for acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome at University College London (UCL) and Imperial College London. A Phase 1 trial was conducted at UCL and Imperial College London with funding from the U.K. charity Bloodwise.
CGT Catapult brought WT1-TCR to a Phase 1/2 clinical trial and devised an improved manufacturing process. Now that it has completed the treatment of eight patients with promising results, CGT Catapult is transferring the WT1-TCR cell therapy rights to Cell Medica to continue development and bring the product to regulatory approval.
Cell Medica entered into a collaboration with UCL in 2016 to support a research team there in the development of new TCRs for use in anti-cancer therapy. Now, Cell Medica has bought Catapult Therapy TCR, a company set up by Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult (CGT Catapult), UCL Business, and Imperial Innovations to develop the WT1-TCR technology.
Cell Medica will produce the cell therapy at CGT Catapult’s GMP manufacturing facility in Stevenage, England.
“The acquisition of the WT1-TCR cell therapy leverages the investment we made in 2016 for exclusive rights to the Dominant TCR technology,” Gregg Sando, CEO of Cell Medica, said in a press release.
“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 tumors who otherwise have a very poor prognosis,” he said. “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.”