Chimeric Therapeutics licenses CAR-T therapy from the University of Pennsylvania

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Clinical-stage cell therapy company Chimeric Therapeutics (ASX:CHM) has entered into an exclusive licensing agreement with the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) for the CDH17 CAR (chimeric antigen receptor) T cell therapy.

The company said the novel CDH17 CAR T cell therapy targets CDH17. This is an oncogenic factor associated with poor prognosis and metastasis in neuroendocrine tumours as well as the most common gastrointestinal tumours including colorectal cancer, pancreatic cancer and gastric cancer.

"More than a decade of research and optimization has gone into development of the novel CDH17 CAR T cell therapy, developed by leading cellular immunotherapy scientist Xianxin Hua, MD, PhD, and his team. Dr Hua is a professor of Cancer Biology in Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine, an investigator at the Abramson Family Cancer Research Institute and a Harrington Scholar Innovator," said the company in a statement.

“Chimeric is incredibly excited to bring the CDH17 CAR T cell therapy into our pipeline. Our focus is on developing cell therapies that have the potential to be curative for patients and we believe that this CDH17 CAR T cell therapy has that transformative potential. We are very much looking forward to working with Dr Hua and his team to bring this CAR T to the clinic as soon as possible,” said Chimeric's Jennifer Chow.

The company said CDH17 is a next-generation CAR T cell therapy that utilises novel technology to specifically address the challenges of solid tumours.

"Preclinical studies of the CDH17 CAR T have demonstrated safety, with no toxicity to normal tissues, and promising efficacy with complete eradication of tumour cells and no relapse of the tumour," it said.

“The preclinical studies indicate that our CDH17 CAR T marks the recognition of an entirely new class of solid tumor antigen targets, that are highly susceptible to CAR T attack on tumour cells yet masked from attack by the CAR T in normal tissues,” said Dr Hua.

Development is currently underway for a phase 1 clinical trial that is planned to begin in 2022 at the University of Pennsylvania.

A three-year commitment for further research and development has been made to Dr Hua and Penn, said Chimeric.

Under the terms of the license agreement, Chimeric Therapeutics acquires the exclusive rights to develop and commercialise the CDH17 CAR T cell therapy for which it has agreed to pay Penn license fees, development milestones and royalty payments based on commercial net sales. Upfront fees associated with the license agreement will be funded entirely from existing cash reserves.

Chimeric’s executive chairman Paul Hopper said, “We are delighted to have secured the exclusive rights to this promising asset from one of the world’s pre-eminent cell therapy centres which has been a powerhouse in CAR T innovation for many years. We look forward to utilizing the deep cell therapy expertise of our team to develop and commercialize this CAR T.”