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Imugene out to supercharge cancer patients in new alliance

Updated: Apr 19

Imugene’s research is providing hope for cancer patients. Credit: File

Imugene has joined with United States-based NeoImmuneTech (NIT) for a two-year collaboration aimed at combining their respective therapies to “supercharge” the T cells of cancer patients in a mission to kill the deadly disease.

The pre-clinical studies will be designed to assess the potential for NIT’s proprietary immune T-cell amplifier “NT-17” to increase the cancer-fighting properties in a patient’s own cells when combined with Imugene’s established allogeneic “azer-cel” (CD19 CAR T) therapy.

Imugene has already produced a swathe of clinical azer-cel data and says the therapy has demonstrated a high level of safety and effectiveness in blood cancers such as lymphoma and leukaemia.

NIT says NT-17 has the potential to improve a patient’s cancer-fighting abilities as it had already shown favourable stability, activity and safety profiles during dosing when compared with the interleukin-7 (IL-K) protein that naturally occurs in humans.

It explains that IL-K cytokines are small proteins that control the growth and activity of other immune system cells and blood cells. When released, cytokines prompt the immune system to do its job and can influence the growth of all blood cells and other cells to help the body’s immune and inflammation responses.

NT-I7 has already shown encouraging results in multiple indications in immuno-oncology and infectious diseases, both as a monotherapy or in combination. The research collaboration with Imugene, an industry leader in allogeneic cell therapy, could greatly expand the potential of our asset and accelerate its path to commercialisation, as we did in acute radiation syndrome. NeoImmuneTech president and chief executive officer Dr Se Hwan Yang

Imugene managing director and chief executive officer Leslie Chong said the company was “delighted” to be working with NIT on the potential to enhance azer-cel activity as part of the research collaboration.

The company also has a potential registration-enabling clinical trial coming up next year for patients with third and fourth-line diffuse large B-cell lymphoma (DLBCL) – an aggressive type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in the lymphatic system. Management says it intends to complete its ongoing multi-centre, phase-1b trials as it prepares to launch the registrational study in the hope that azer-cel could become the world’s first approved allogeneic CAR (chimeric antigen receptor) T-cell therapy.

Imugene is well-advanced in its fast-to-market development strategy after revealing in August that it had entered into an agreement to acquire a worldwide exclusive licence for North Carolina-based Precision Biosciences’ azer-cel allogeneic CD19 CAR T cell therapy program.

Now, the collaboration with NIT – which describes itself as a clinical-stage T cell-focused biotech company dedicated to the discovery and development of novel immunotherapeutics – is looming as a potential win-win for both companies, with work to begin immediately in the US.

Imugene says it will fund its part of the program out of its existing research budget and both parties will retain intellectual property rights to their own technologies. Any new shared development or technology will be accommodated under a joint collaboration technology agreement relating to mutual rights, protection and use.

Finding a “kryptonite” for cancers is arguably the holy grail in the ever-evolving medical industry as new trials and new technologies constantly change the game. Imugene and NIT now have new skin in that game and are hellbent on developing a cancer master-blaster.

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