SUDA licenses iNKT cell therapy platform from Imperial College London

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SUDA Pharmaceuticals (ASX:SUD) has announced it has signed a global, exclusive agreement with Imperial College London for a novel invariant Natural Killer T (iNKT) cell therapy platform.

The company said the new iNKT cell therapy platform, currently in the preclinical stages and developed by Professor Anastasios Karadimitris at Imperial College London, has been under development for several years.

The iNKT cell therapy platform can be used in conjunction with chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) to treat various blood cancers.

Cell therapies harness the immune system to treat cancer. However, SUDA said a limitation for currently approved products is that the cell therapy must be manufactured from a patient’s own cells, making the process complex and costly.

The technology developed at by Professor Karadimitris focuses on a specific immune cell type, iNKT cells, and his research group was the first to demonstrate that they are protective against graft versus host disease (GVHD).

"This provides a critical advantage that the iNKT cell platform may be used off-the-shelf, meaning that the cells can be isolated from a healthy donor, modified to enhance their activity against cancer and stored frozen, ready to be administered to cancer patients as needed," said the company.

"The natural properties of iNKT cells are expected to reduce the complexity of delivering the cell therapy to cancer patients and help to reduce the costs of such an important treatment modality. This has the potential to solve one of the industry’s significant challenges: manufacturing the therapeutic from each individual’s own cells," it said.

SUDA CEO and managing director Dr Michael Baker said, “Cell therapies have transformed the way we think about cancer treatment. The iNKT cell therapy platform provides an opportunity to target several cancers using a product that we expect to have superior activity and to be more cost-effective, which should allow the therapy to reach more individuals.”

“SUDA will be the only ASX listed CAR-iNKT cell therapy company that is working on this cellular platform and we look forward to progressing the technology into clinical trials,” he added.