Biotech Company apceth Signs CART Pact
apceth, a Munich-based clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company developing cell-based therapeutics, has formed a research collaboration with the University of Cologne to combine technologies and expertise, on the development of immunotherapies for solid tumors and hematological malignancies. The collaboration will start immediately and is based on combinations of chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cells, developed at the laboratory of Prof. Hinrich Abken against multiple tumor-associated antigens, and apceth-developed engineered mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs).
apceth is developing autologous (patient-derived) and allogeneic (off-the-shelf) engineered MSCs that migrate to tumors and sites of injury or inflammation, based on their natural homing capabilities, where they express therapeutic transgenes.
CART cells are based on T-cells taken from patients and engineered to target and destroy tumor cells that express specific markers. The specificity is dictated by the CARs they express, which also enable them to become activated. The activation, however, is not usually optimal, due to the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment. This collaboration will focus on the use of engineered MSCs to promote the local activation of CART cells within tumors. The approach will therefore increase the specificity of CART immunotherapies, as activation of CART cells will be limited outside of tumors.
Under the agreement, apceth will develop and optimize gmMSCs that can generate a pro-inflammatory tumor microenvironment. These will be combined with different CART cells developed by Prof Abken against multiple pre-agreed cancer-specific markers found on solid tumors and hematological malignancies and tested in various preclinical models. Successful candidates will be optimized and further developed for clinical trials.