The first applications of the Carisma platform, developed in collaboration with the University of Pennsylvania, are autologous chimeric antigen receptor (CAR)-macrophages for the treatment of solid tumors.
The Swiss pharma giant will produce the Philadelphia-based company’s HER 2 targeted CAR-Macrophage (CAR-M) cell therapy, with clinical manufacturing set to get underway in 2023.
Carisma’s manufacturing process will be transferred to the Novartis cell therapy site in Morris Plains, US, in the coming days.
Carisma is developing CT-0508 to target HER2-positive solid tumors. While its expression in normal tissues is low, HER2 is highly expressed in a wide range of solid tumors and plays an active role in both malignant transformation and tumor aggressiveness by promoting cancer cell proliferation, invasion and metastasis.
CT-0508 is a human epidermal growth factor receptor 2 (HER2) targeted chimeric antigen receptor macrophage (CAR-Macrophage).
Engineered macrophages are cells that play a crucial role in both the innate and adaptive immune response, said Carisma.
Unlike other cell types used in CAR cell therapy, macrophages are professional antigen presenting cells, capable of leading to activation of the patient’s own adaptive immune system, it added.
The developer outlined how, in preclinical studies, CAR-Macrophage cell therapies have demonstrated the ability to traffic into the tumor, phagocytose and kill cancer cells, warm-up the tumor microenvironment, and attract and activate cells of the adaptive immune system, delivering a lasting attack against the cancer.
The deal follows several contract manufacturing agreements Novartis signed last year such as the tie-up with BioNTech, for the filling of its COVID-19 vaccine at the Novartis Technical Operations’ sites in Stein, Switzerland, and in Ljubljana, Slovenia.
“As one of the world’s largest producers of medicines, Novartis can mobilize its manufacturing capacity in an efficient way on multiple fronts,” commented Anton Gerdenitsch, head of the contract manufacturing organization at Novartis technical operations.
Novartis will be providing manufacturing services for other companies involved in developing a variety of therapeutics, such as mRNA-based products, among others. “Further specifics will be disclosed when agreements are concluded.”