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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If you want to meet a believer in the potential of cellular therapy to treat cancer, then look no further than Dr Cassian Yee.
Dr Yee is Director of Solid tumour Cell Therapy at the University of Texas MD Anderson Center in Houston and a Professor in the Departments of Melanoma Medical Oncology and Immunology.
He’s a pioneer in the development of endogeneous T cell therapy (ETC) that uses the peripheral blood as a source of antigen-specific T cells.
If the cells in the immune system are like the participants in “Game of Thrones” then Dr Yee’s eponymous car number plate and Twitter handle (@tcellsrus) strongly declares his allegiance.
He’s also co-founder of Immatics US, a company jointly founded back in 2015 by Immatics GmBH in Tubingen and MD Anderson, to commercialize next generation adoptive cellular therapy (ACT). The US venture secured $60M of first round funding, including $40M of funding from Immatics.
Dr Yee is not someone we’ve heard a lot from on the conference circuit in recent years, so it was a pleasure to catch up with him in person at the recent @C_IMT annual meeting in Mainz.
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A decade or so ago, the annual conferences for the European Congress of Clinical Oncologists (ECCO) and European Society of Medical Oncologists (ESMO) were considered convenient dumping grounds for negative or failed trials. This was largely because they received much less attention than their big brother, the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO).
In the last few years, this trend has shifted with excellent clincial and scientific data being presented at both meetings – they alternate as hosts each year – under the European Cancer Congress (ECC) umbrella.
Just to confuse a global audience long used to referring to the meetings as ESMO and ECCO, while the logical Twitter hashtag might appear to be #ESMO14 and #ECCO15, respectively, based on the standard nomenclature of conference acronym followed by the year, the vagaries of European politics mean we end up with… #ECC2015.
It will be interesting to see how they compete for attention because this hashtag signal will be dirty (more than one usage) and noisy (many disparate voices) with the European Curling Championship, a European Cheerleader Convention and another on e-cigarettes and vaping, all seemingly using the same moniker!
Still, what many readers are really eager to learn though, is this a great, middling, or poor year for exciting new data in the field of cancer research and what can we expect to hear about in Vienna later this month?
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