UCL picks ViroCell as partner for childhood cancer treatment

By Isabel Cameron

- Last updated on GMT

© Getty Images
© Getty Images

Related tags Cancer Oncology CDMO cell and gene therapy

ViroCell Biologics, a London-based viral vector CDMO for cell and gene therapy clinical trials, has partnered with University College London (UCL) to advance its pediatric cancer treatment.

The treatment, pioneered by UCL professor Persis Amrolia, is a chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapy for relapsed paediatric acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).

ALL is the most common cancer in childhood and although 85% of patients can be cured with conventional chemotherapy and stem cell transplant, relapsed ALL remains one of the leading causes of cancer death in children.

While genetically modified CAR T-cells targeting CD19 have shown impressive outcomes in relapsed and refractory ALL, 50% of responding patients will relapse either due to evolution of CD19 negative disease or early loss of CAR T-cells.

Therefore, only around 40% of patients are cured by the currently licensed CAR T-cell therapies.

To address these challenges, Professor Amrolia has developed a new solution that will preserves stem cell memory in T-cells, which she hopes will result in a more persistent treatment response and relapse prevention.

"I am excited to be working with ViroCell to supply the lentiviral vector for our relapsed ALL programme. The depth of experience of the team, paired with their commitment to speed in manufacturing, testing and release makes ViroCell the ideal partner for innovators looking to transition their therapy swiftly from vector design to manufacturing and, ultimately, into patients,” Amrolia said.

Through this collaboration, ViroCell will manufacture the lentiviral vector for this novel CAR T-cell therapy.

According to the company, UCL’s research capabilities will be supported by ViroCell’s expertise in the manufacturing of high-specificity lentiviral vectors to advance UCL’s phase 1 CARPALL cohort 4 clinical trial in children with relapsed/refractory ALL.

The study is expected to initiate in Q2 2024.

Farzin Farzaneh, chief scientific officer of ViroCell, commented: "We are honoured to be partnering with such a prestigious research institution as UCL to bring next generation CAR T-cells to paediatric patients with relapsed acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. We at ViroCell are passionately focused on leveraging our experience in viral vector design and supply to support bringing innovative therapies like Professor Amrolia’s to patients."

The news follows the recent UK Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency approval of ViroCell’s manufacturing operations at Great Ormond Street Hospital’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facility, the Zayed Centre for Research.

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