Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cells are T-cells taken from patients that are engineered to destroy cells which express certain markers. In this case, the target is a disease-relevant antigen identified by TxCell scientists.
The French biotech is already developing a bullous pemphigoid using its ENTrIA platform which directs antigen-specific regulatory cells (Ag-Tregs) harvested from patient blood sample to target autoimmune inflammatory diseases.
The cell therapy – called a CAR construct - will be tested in animal models by the Lübeck Institute of Experimental Dermatology (LIED), with the aim being to prepare for planned clinical studies.
Bullous pemphigoid is a rare fatal autoimmune skin condition characterized by large, fluid-filled blisters on the surface of the skin, called bullae.
The disease – for which the only currently available treatments are corticosteroids - affects one in 40,000 people but its incidence is increasing according to Professor Enno Schmidt, head of the LIED Translational Research team.
“The prevalence of bullous pemphigoid is continually increasing in both Europe and in the US...There is a high medical need for more specific and safer treatment modalities since patients are still mainly treated with corticosteroids.
“The development of a CAR-Treg approach with TxCell could represent a very important therapeutic option for patients suffering from bullous pemphigoid who are refractory or intolerant to available treatments” Schmidt said.
TxCell retains all rights on existing and future programs and products developed under the agreement with LIED researchers.
The deal is the second TxCell has signed in recent months. In April it teamed up with Ospedale San Raffaele, an Italian cell and gene therapy institute, to develop a CAR-Treg based treatment for lupus nephritis.
The agreement follows just a week after TxCell announced it has been given the all clear to restart a clinical trial of its candidate Crohn’s disease CAR-Treg-based therapy, Ovasave.