Biotech Strategy Blog

Commentary on Science, Innovation & New Products with a focus on Oncology, Hematology & Cancer Immunotherapy

Posts tagged ‘gamma delta T cells’

Last week we talked about finding ways to make the T cells work harder and smarter – there are numerous ways to do this, but cytokines might be one interesting way to begin the search.

What about NK and other immune cells though, can we do the same with these too?

This week we are focusing on various cell therapy approaches with some academic and industry interviews to share, along with some analysis of arising issues as well as some new developments to review and discuss.

In the first of the series, we have an academic thought leader in the spotlight who had a few interesting points to make on novel cell therapies…

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Not in San Diego: We took a close look at the potential for targeting gamma delta (𝞬𝝳) T cells early last year in an extended mini-series looking at the landscape including some of the early companies leading the way in this niche.

Since then there’s been a raft of company related announcements and collaborations in recent months, highlighting the ongoing interest in this field.

In this post, it’s time to revisit the original landscape (link), as well as explore how well some of the biotech companies who are active in this space are navigating the R&D roller coaster.

We will also be discussing recent data presented at the AACR20 virtual meetings.

So what did we learn about gamma delta T Cell therapies at AACR20 – who stands out from the increasingly crowded pack?

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A high tide marker stands out on the beach, what stood out at ASGCT20 for you?

As Covid–19 continues to exert its impact on the cancer conference schedule, the good news is that it isn’t a total wrecking ball effect as organisations turn to virtual meetings to enable researchers to share their work.

Some of the events we have ‘attended’ this year have been prerecorded in advance, while others have taken the form of live events. Having listened to both, I can say they have advantages and disadvantages either way.

To me, it doesn’t really matter if you are flexible and appreciate the effort the scientists are making to show their wares.

This week it’s the turn of the American Society of Gene and Cell Therapy (ASGCT) to be in the spotlight with a truly ‘live’ meeting.

In the latest post, we focus on some key Gems from the Poster Halls…

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If the best way to predict the future is to invent it then the poster sessions at the AACR annual meeting are frequently a window into the next generation of cancer drugs and therapies. Regular attendees at AACR will know that there are gems to be found in the posters, and that preclinical research on display may end up being translated into the clinic not long afterwards.

Like wearing a new set of clothes for lunch and dinner, with the exception of the first and last days, there’s a different set of posters in the morning and afternoon – that’s a lot of posters one can get through during a conference!

Indeed, MSKCC Chief Analytics Officer, Ari Caroline, noted on Twitter, “I may have spent more time at AACR this year at the posters than at the sessions.”

Dr Larry Lamb CSO Incysus

One story that we continue to follow this year is the emerging interest in unconventional T cells. The good news was that there was new data at AACR19.

We covered Puretech Health and their posters last week while another related one in the same niche that caught our attention was presented by Dr Lawrence Lamb (right).

On April 1, 2019 Incysus announced that the FDA had approved their IND application for a novel gamma-delta T cell therapy for treatment of patients with newly diagnosed glioblastoma (link to press release).

At AACR19 we met up with Dr Lamb, who is now Chief Scientific Officer of Incysus Therapeutics, to find out more about his research and how Incysus plan to translate it into the clinic.

This is a continuation of our series on gamma delta (𝞬𝝳) T cells exploring the multitude of different ways that illustrate their potential for cancer immunotherapy in hematologic malignancies and solid tumours.

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We’re continuing our series following the development of novel cutting edge strategies targeting gamma delta (𝞬𝝳) T cells, with a look at the two approaches Puretech Health are pursuing based on the research of Dr George Miller (NYU Langone).

Data was presented at #AACR19 for a first-in-class immunotherapy targeting immune-suppressive delta 1 containing 𝞬𝝳 T cells and one targeting Galectin–9.

Drs Panchenko and Filipovic at their AACR19 poster

We recently spoke with Dr Aleksandra Filipovic, therapeutic lead for oncology at Puretech Health, she’s pictured right with Dr Tatyana Panchenko from NYU Langone at their AACR poster.

Dr Filiopovic told BSB that Puretech are looking for the next big IO breakthrough:

“We looked at this landscape and the massive amount of trials going on. We said ok, if we’re going to go into the space of immuno-oncology, what is it that we need to do differently in order to, upfront, try and ensure that we’re going after targets which could be the next PD–1. Our thinking went along the lines that we would really need to identify those next checkpoints, those next foundational modulators of the immune system.”

This is the first of two interviews from #AACR19 on novel strategies to target 𝞬𝝳 T cells, an emerging area that companies are looking at with both antibody and adoptive cellular therapy approaches. Do check out our previous mini-series if you missed it.

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London – last week a half day event at The Francis Crick Institute looked at three UK cell therapy companies that have been spun out of academic research from partner institutions, UCL and King’s College London.

Medicine at Crick Welcome

Professor Julian Downward welcomes everyone to The Crick

We heard from the CEOs of Achilles Therapeutics, GammaDelta Therapeutics and Autolus Therapeutics on how they are translating science into new adoptive cellular therapies.

There were also presentations from leading scientists whose research they are commercializing.

All three companies were founded in 2016, so the event was a fascinating snapshot as to where are they now, roughly 3 years on, what have they achieved and where are they going.

They vary in terms of their vision, innovation and their adoptive cellular therapy approach.

Autolus are developing autologous CAR-T cell therapies, GammaDelta Therapeutics are focusing on allogeneic Vδ1 gamma delta (ϒδ) T cells, while Achilles Therapeutics are targeting patient-derived clonal neoantigens.

If you couldn’t make this Medicine at the Crick event, what were some of the take home messages, and how do we think these companies compare to some of their competitors?

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For the final post in our mini series on the potential of gamma delta (γδ) T cells for cancer immunotherapy, we’re traveling to Scotland with a visit to a company that is a poster child for Scottish enterprise.

TC BioPharm Office Building

TC (as in T cell) BioPharm are leading the way in development of allogeneic γδ T cell therapies. They’ve already completed a trial of autologous γδ T cell therapy to establish safety and now have an allogeneic phase 1 trial underway in Prague.

TC BioPharm logoCEO and Founder, Dr Michael Leek, has built a company that already counts bluebird bio (NASDAQ: $BLUE) as one its partners (Link).

Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer, Dr Angela Scott was part of the team that cloned the first mammal, “Dolly the Sheep.”

Angela Scott COO and Co-Founder of TC BioPharm

Dr Angela Scott, COO

She was recently profiled in The Herald (Link) and her cell therapy experience has been instrumental in the development of the company’s own GMP manufacturing facility in Scotland.

As the Herald article notes, the company is being positioned for a possible NASDAQ IPO in 2020, so is definitely one to watch out for.

We all remember catchy advertising slogans, and one I remember well is for the now defunct Orange mobile phone network in the UK: “The future is bright, the future is orange.”

If you’re TC BioPharm then maybe this could be construed as: “The future is bright, the future is allogeneic” (γδ T cells).

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Chinese Pagoda in Hoxton

Yesterday on BSB we looked at the emerging landscape in western countries for cancer immunotherapies that target gamma delta T cells. Today we’re turning our attention to China.

There’s a lot of interest in cell therapies in China. Anyone who has seen one of Dr Carl June’s recent presentations will no doubt recall the slide he shows of how many CAR T trials are underway there.

What’s happening with gamma delta T cells in China, and in particular CAR γδ T cell therapies? Do the Chinese have a competitive advantage in this emerging field and what can we learn from some of the results that have been reported?

This is the fourth post in our mini-series on the potential of gamma delta T cells for cancer immunotherapy.

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In the first post in our mini-series about the potential for gamma delta (γδ) T cells in cancer immunotherapy, Prof Adrian Hayday took us on a voyage of discovery through the pioneering research he and colleagues did at MIT, Yale, King’s College London (KCL) and The Francis Crick Institute in London.

Prof Adrian Hayday FRS

Prof Adrian Hayday FRS

Along the way he highlighted how our current understanding of γδ T cells has developed over the last thirty years.

“All truths are easy to understand once they are discovered, the point is to discover them.”

This maxim attributed to Galileo Galilei in a 1632 publication, is very pertinent to Prof Hayday’s research which was a fascinating journey of discovery.

For the second post in our mini-series we have a Q&A with Prof Hayday that takes the story forward and looks at how our understanding of the science behind γδ T cells has opened the door to translational and clinical opportunities such as adoptive cellular therapy.

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This is the first part of our latest mini-series, which takes a closer look at the potential of gamma delta (γδ) T cells for cancer immunotherapy.

Prof Adrian Hayday FRS

Prof Adrian Hayday FRS

In this post, we’re focusing at the voyage of discovery made by one of the pioneers in the field, Professor Adrian Hayday, FRS.

We’re living in a golden age of immunology. Basic research conducted over the past thirty years is beginning to pay dividends as it is translated into new cancer treatments that leverage the power of the immune system.

As things stand today, however, the majority of cancer patients do not respond to approved immunotherapies such as checkpoint blockade, either as single agents or in combination with chemotherapy. This means that we still have a long way to go to make these therapies an effective and widely available modality for the majority of cancer patients.

Despite the “hype and hope” surrounding the approval of two cell therapies based on CD19 directed CAR T cell therapies for certain types of blood cancers, there remain many challenges before more widespread use is likely. These include long term durability and persistence, overcoming antigen loss/immune escape, developing safe and effective allogeneic (off-the-shelf) treatments, as well as finding suitable targets for solid tumours.

The cellular therapy landscape is undoubtedly still emerging. While many companies have jumped on the CAR T cell bandwagon, others are looking at new and novel opportunities, one of which is the potential of unconventional lymphocytes, such as γδ T cells.

The Francis Crick Institute viewed from The British Library

The Francis Crick Institute viewed from The British Library

Someone who is a pioneer and leading researcher in the γδ T field is Professor Adrian Hayday. He’s a Senior Group Leader and Assistant Research Director at The Francis Crick Institute and has been the Kay Glendinning Professor of Immunobiology at King’s College London since 1998. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society (FRS) in 2016.

Prof Hayday kindly spoke to BSB about his γδ T cell research and the voyage of discovery that have taken him from basic biology to translation into a novel cancer immunotherapy.

What is the potential of γδ T cells for cancer immunotherapy?

BSB readers will, hopefully, have a clearer idea after reading our latest four part mini-series.

To learn more from our latest expert interview and get a heads up on our latest oncology insights, subscribers can log-in or you can click to gain access to BSB Premium Content.

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