Clinical stage immuno-oncology company, Imugene Ltd (ASX: IMU) and biotechnology company Eureka Therapeutics, Inc., have agreed to a strategic collaboration.
The companies will work together to evaluate Imugene’s CD19 oncolytic virus onCARlytics technology in combination with Eureka’s anti-CD19 ARTEMIS T-cell therapy for the treatment of solid tumours.
Oncolytic viruses in combination with T-cell therapies represent a novel and promising approach to treat solid tumours. In preclinical studies conducted by the City of Hope Comprehensive Cancer Center, scientists combined CAR-T therapy with an oncolytic virus to eliminate solid tumours in mice.
The virus enters the tumour cells and forces them to express the CD19 protein on the cell surface, presenting a target for anti-CD19 T-cells to pursue and kill.
Imugene licensed the patents covering City of Hope’s oncolytic virus technology in May 2021.
“By combining oncolytic virus and CAR T-cell therapies, we have developed a ‘mark and kill’ approach to treating solid tumours with T-cell therapies,” said Saul Priceman, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Hematology and Hematopoietic Cell Transplantation at City of Hope and co-inventor of the platform.
“In our animal studies, we were able to express CD19 in triple-negative breast, pancreatic, prostate, ovarian, and head and neck cancer, as well as brain tumours.
“T-cell and CAR-T therapies have not achieved much success in solid tumours in part because of a lack of tumour-specific targets.”
Leslie Chong, Managing Director and CEO of Imugene, said by using the company’s proprietary oncolytic technology to force the tumour to express the CD19 target, there is now an ability to address this shortcoming.
“We believe the synergy between our onCARlytics platform and Eureka’s anti-CD19 ARTEMIS T-cells has the potential to shift the cellular medicine paradigm in treating solid tumours,” said Leslie Chong.