CAR T therapy focused Umoja hits manufacturing capability linked milestone

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© GettyImages/luismmolina
© GettyImages/luismmolina

Related tags: CAR T cell therapy, Cancer, lentiviral vector

Seattle-based Umoja Biopharma, a company looking to reprogram immune cells in-vivo to create next-generation immunotherapies for the treatment of solid tumors and hematologic malignancies, has started work on its new development and manufacturing facility in Colorado.

Construction of the facility is a key milestone and represents a critical next step in bringing effective and accessible CAR T therapies to cancer patients, as well as in how those therapies are produced, stored, and distributed, it said.

Andy Scharenberg, cofounder and CEO, Umoja, said the facility will substantially enhance its vector manufacturing, process development, and formulation capabilities.

"With this facility and Umoja's unique, integrated approach, we are rethinking the supply chain of CAR T therapies from the ground up, eliminating costly and time-consuming steps to streamline the process and ultimately make treatments more accessible,​" commented Ryan Crisman, co-founder and CTO.

The site will house labs, offices, and manufacturing space for lentiviral vector production, with the first manufacturing run of clinical material expected to kick off in the first quarter of 2023.

Umoja said it has made significant progress in advancing its programs and bringing key hires on board to prepare for its next rapid phase of development and growth, since its launch in November last year.

Investment, clinical development

In June, the company, which was founded based on work performed at Seattle Children's Research Institute and Purdue University, closed a $210m Series B financing round led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and Cormorant Asset Management.

As well as using the financing to build the manufacturing capabilities at the site in Colorado, Umoja said the capital would also help it advance its in-vivo​ CAR T-cell immunotherapies: TumorTag UB-TT170 for folate receptor-expressing solid tumors and VivoVec UB-VV100 for CD19-positive hematological cancers.

Umoja uses three drug engineering and delivery platforms to develop its products: the VivoVec in vivo delivery platform, the RACR/CAR in vivo cell expansion and control platform, and the TumorTag targeting platform.

The company is currently studying UB-TT170 in pediatric osteosarcoma and developing UB-VV100 for B-cell malignancies. Both drugs are currently in preclinical studies, and Umoja said it hopes to advance them into clinical development with the latest funding. The firm is also advancing six other candidates using its TumorTag platform.

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