German firm joins CAR-T party

By Fiona BARRY

- Last updated on GMT

apceth is the latest firm to form a CAR T-cell collab
apceth is the latest firm to form a CAR T-cell collab

Related tags Cancer

German biopharma apceth has announced a CAR T-cell immunotherapy partnership with the University of Cologne.

The organisations will work together on using apceth’s engineered mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) to locally activate CAR T-cells within tumours. The method aims to hone in CAR T-based immunotherapies on their targets, and limiting their activation outside cancers.

Apceth’s MSCs are autologous (patient-derived) and allogeneic (off-the-shelf). Their natural homing abilities make them migrate to tumours and sites of injury or inflammation, where they express therapeutic transgenes.

CAR-T cells

Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cells are based on T-cells taken from patients and engineered to target and destroy cancer cells which express certain markers. But activation and specificity can be poor because of the immunosuppressive effects of tumours. The collaboration aims to change that by creating a pro-inflammatory cancer microenvironment.

The combination cellular therapies will be developed jointly at apceth’s site in Munich and at the Centre for Molecular Medicine at the University of Cologne, under Prof Hinrich Abken.

Under the agreement, apceth will develop the MSCs, which will be combined with different CART cells developed by Abken’s lab against several undisclosed markers found on solid tumours and haematological malignancies. The markers have already been tested in pre-clinical models.

Christine Günther, apceth CEO, said while immunotherapies have revolutionised oncology, tumour specificity of many of these treatments “remains suboptimal​.”

We see the powerful combination of apceth MSCs with CAR Ts as a great opportunity to overcome some of these barriers and boost the specificity and clinical efficacy of CART cell approaches.

“We are delighted to be working alongside Prof Hinrich Abken, a pioneer in the field with tremendous experience in CART biology and see many synergies with apceth’s MSC platform technology and our track record in preclinical and clinical development of genetically-modified cells for clinical trials.​”

Development race

This year has seen a flurry of interest in CAR T tech. Amgen announced an R&D partnership with CAR expert Kite​ in January, in the same week Novartis released news of its own collaboration​ with the University of Pennsylvania.

Belgian biotech Cardio3 Biosciences​ and Juno Therapeutics ​have also got in on the act, and Pfizer teamed up with Cellectis last month​ for a CAR T programme. 

Related topics Bio Developments Cell lines

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