- British cellular immunotherapy company Cell Medica has struck a deal to acquire Catapult Therapy TCR, a subsidiary of Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult, gaining access to its genetically engineered WT1 T-cell receptor therapy.
- As part of the multi-layered deal, London-based Cell Medica will also work with CGT Catapult to set up cell therapy manufacturing at the latter's recently built Stevenage, U.K. site.
- The WT1-TCR cell therapy is currently in Phase 1/2 for the treatment of acute myeloid leukemia and myelodysplastic syndrome. Financial terms for the deal have not been disclosed.
Even more than traditional drug development, manufacturing is a crucial step in the development of complex therapeutics like cell therapies. As the field evolves, it will likely be a difference maker between success and setback. Such focus on production and logistics can be see in the attention paid to the processes set up by the more advanced CAR-T developers like Kite Pharma, Novartis and Juno Therapeutics.
With this deal, Cell Medica has seized on an opportunity to gain access to an existing GMP facility, taking a short cut to support further development and potential commercialization of the WT1-TCR therapy. More cell therapy products might also be produced at the site in the future, Cell Medica said.
Catapult Therapy TCR was created by CGT Catapult, UCL Business and Imperial Innovations — the technology transfer arms of University College London and Imperial College, London — in order to develop the WT1-TCR cell therapy.
By acquiring Catapult Therapy TCR, Cell Medica can also integrate WT1-TCR cell therapy into its Dominant TCR platform technology. This has potential to improve efficacy, Cell Medica believes, and to expand use of the therapeutic from its existing focus on blood cancers to hard-to-treat solid tumors such as mesothelioma and ovarian cancer.
Cell Medica recently upped its financial firepower, closing a £60 million ($75.9 million) Series C investor round in March 2017 to further develop its cell-based cancer immunotherapies.