Cell Medica acquires WT1 cancer immunotherapy from CGT Catapult

The acquisition transfers rights for WT1-TCR cell therapy from CGT Catapult to Cell Medica, also establishing development and manufacturing collaboration

Image courtesy of Cell Medica

Cell Medica acquired Catapult Therapy T Cell Receptor (TCR), a subsidiary of Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult (CGT Catapult), with plans to collaborate to establish cell therapy manufacturing for Cell Medica at CGT Catapult’s GMP manufacturing facility in Stevenage, UK.

Catapult Therapy TCR is a special purpose company set up by CGT Catapult, UCL Business and Imperial Innovations, managed by CGT Catapult.

Its purpose is to develop the WT1-TCR cell therapy discovered through research at University College London (UCL) and Imperial College London.

The WT1-TCR cell therapy enhances the immune system to fight cancer by genetically engineering the patient’s T cells to target WT1, a tumour associated antigen, which is expressed in both solid tumours and blood cancers.

CGT Catapult has been developing the WT1-TCR cell therapy for the treatment of acute myeloid leukaemia and myelodysplastic syndrome.

Early development work, including initiation of a Phase I trial, was conducted at UCL and Imperial College London with funding from the UK charity Bloodwise.

CGT Catapult advanced the product to a larger Phase I/II clinical trial and developed an improved manufacturing process.

Having completed the treatment of eight patients with promising results, CGT Catapult will now transfer the WT1-TCR cell therapy rights to Cell Medica for continued development towards regulatory approval.

Applying the dominant TCR technology to the WT1-TCR cell therapy is expected to result in a more efficacious product with the potential to treat patients with solid tumours such as mesothelioma and ovarian cancer, which have proven very difficult to treat with conventional therapies.

Cell Medica is planning to initiate a Phase I/II clinical trial with a dominant WT1-TCR version in late 2018.

Cell Medica and CGT Catapult have also initiated a collaboration to establish cell therapy manufacturing operations for Cell Medica at the GMP production facility recently built by CGT Catapult in Stevenage.

The collaboration will include transferring the current WT1-TCR cell therapy manufacturing process to Stevenage over the next 12 months while Cell Medica and CGT Catapult work to develop a commercial scale production process using advanced manufacturing techniques.

Gregg Sando, CEO of 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.”

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