T Cell vaccine maker TapImmune looks to monetise expression tech

By Dan Stanton

- Last updated on GMT

Image: iStock/ibreakstock
Image: iStock/ibreakstock
TapImmune says it is exploring licensing out its nucleic acid-based protein expression technology PolyStart to vaccine developers.

TapImmune’s proprietary PolyStart technology is undergoing preclinical studies to develop a T-cell vaccine for breast cancer but the Jacksonville, Florida-based firm said last week it is weighing up opportunities to monetise the platform by licensing it out to other vaccine developers.

“We continue to generate very encouraging data demonstrating how PolyStart may be able to enhance the potency of virtually any expression based vaccine,”​ CEO Glynn Wilson told investors during a first quarter financial update.

“This gives us multiple opportunities to leverage our technology to develop future vaccines and to add to our oncology pipeline as well as our out license PolyStart through strategic partners developing vaccines for infectious disease and emerging viral threats.”

PolyStart is a protein expression technology designed to enhance the potency of nucleic acid based vaccines by increasing the expression of target-cell-specific, naturally processed antigenic epitopes on a cell’s surface. The enhanced antigen presentation boosts helper and long-lived killer T-cell populations, which then seek out and destroy the targeted cells.

According to TapImmune’s head of Clinical Development Richard Kenney, the firm has successfully demonstrated it can increase antigen expression by at least four fold – and in some cases up to ten-fold – compared to traditional vectors.

“We have done this in multiple cell lines and have shown that the antigens are fully functional and our presented on a surface of antigen presenting cells in vitro. We've also shown that this antigen presentation mediates cell curing in vivo very efficiently by CDA T-cells,”​ Kenney said on the call.

“Additional studies are underway and have been planned in an effort to fully validate our approach to demonstrate that the value that PolyStart may offer to potential partners. But so far we are pleased with our progress to date and look forward to developing it further.”

Licensing the tech would be a new opportunity, but TapImmune has clinical development deals in place for several of its pipeline candidates with AstraZeneca, Memorial Sloan and the Mayo Clinic.

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