News Feature | May 23, 2014

Cell Therapy Catapult Collaboration To Advance Leukemia Cell Therapy

By Estel Grace Masangkay

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UCL Business (UCLB), Cell Therapy Catapult, and Imperial Innovations have formed a joint venture named Catapult Therapy TCR Limited for the advancement of a promising novel cell therapy approach to treat acute myeloid leukemia.

The new therapy was initially developed at Imperial College and later at UCL by researchers with the help of Leukemia and Lymphoma Research funding. The therapy targets disorders linked with the over expression of the WT1 antigen, including acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome.

Professor Chris Bunce, Research Director at Leukemia & Lymphoma Research, said, “Leukemia & 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.”

Cell Therapy Catapult will work towards accelerating delivery of Phase I/II clinical trials for the therapy, which is a gene-modified T-cell receptor targeting WT1-overexpressing cells. The therapy will modify a patient’s T cells through gene therapy so that they will target and destroy the malignant cells when infused back into the body. The therapy has potential particularly in the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia and hematological disorders such as myelodysplastic syndrome.

Under the terms of the agreement, the joint venture will take responsibility for further development of the novel therapy. The technology transfer companies which have given their relevant patents and expertise to Catapult Therapy TCR Limited will be eligible to receive late-stage development milestones and royalties over the course of the therapy development. Catapult Therapy TCR Limited will invest up to £10m for the advancement of the product into and through Phase II trials.

Tony Hickson, Managing Director of 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.”

Clinical trials are expected to begin patient enrollment in 2015.

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