Cartherics and ToolGen sign a deal on CAR-T therapy

Thursday, 24 January, 2019

Cartherics and ToolGen sign a deal on CAR-T therapy

Australia’s Cartherics and Seoul-based ToolGen have teamed up to bring innovative immunotherapies for cancer a step closer to reality.

The deal will allow Cartherics to share its expertise in immunology and stem cell science and ToolGen to use its gene editing technology in a joint research project aimed at boosting the ability of a patient’s immune system to fight cancer.

The collaboration with ToolGen aims to accelerate Cartherics’ goal of developing accessible off-the-shelf effective immune cell therapies for aggressive diseases such as relapsed ovarian and bowel cancers.

Cartherics CEO Alan Trounson explained: “The new collaborative agreement with the pharmaceutical company ToolGen Inc. is a major step forward for Cartherics in the development of effective new off-the-shelf immune stem cell therapies.

“This innovative program will enable precision gene editing of our stem cells to increase their ability to track and destroy targeted tumours. The collaboration will merge very effective gene, stem cell and CAR-T cell technologies in the two companies for advanced cancer therapies,” Trounson added.

The new partnership also reflects ToolGen’s growing influence in the global biotechnology sector.

“This collaboration agreement with Cartherics indicates wide applicability of our gene editing technology to various cell types including immune and pluripotent stem cells. Throughout this collaboration, we will develop effective cell therapies against cancers,” said Jongmoon Kim ToolGen CEO.

In healthy individuals, immune system cells called T-cells identify and kill infected or abnormal cells, including cancer cells. Immunotherapy harnesses the body’s immune system to target and kill these invaders by arming T-cells with ‘seek and destroy’ capacity.

In their joint research project, Cartherics and ToolGen will focus on enhancing the cancer-killing ability of Chimeric antigen receptor T-cells, or CAR-T cells. These are engineered molecules that, when present at the surface of T-cells, recognise cancer cells and activate killer T-cells.

Cartherics will bring to the table CAR-T cells targeting one or more tumour targets, which it derived from either patient T-cells or those created using iPSCs, a form of stem cell.

ToolGen will contribute advanced technology for editing the genetic material in the CAR-T cells. The technology is based on the CRISPR/Cas9 approach.

ToolGen also has intellectual property on the inhibitory effect that a molecule called diacylglycerol kinase (DKG) has on T-cell function. Using ToolGen’s technology, Cartherics will investigate whether CAR-T cells engineered to be DKG deficient trigger a stronger immune response than CAR-T cells containing this key gene.

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