Cancer is caused by abnormal cells that grow in an uncontrolled manner, causing tumors that can spread (metastasize) and result in organ failure or death. Immunotherapy represents a novel approach to cancer treatment, based on a sophisticated understanding of cancer biology and the immune response.
ImmunoCellular’s product candidates stimulate a powerful immune response that can destroy cancer cells and prevent tumor recurrence. These cancer immunotherapeutics activate the body’s immune system against tumor-associated antigens, which are overexpressed on cancer stem cells and other cancer cells. In mounting an effective immune response, the body recruits immune cells, such as T cells, to destroy the cancer and prevent its recurrence. This approach to activating the immune response offers the promise of improved survival through treatments that are potentially safer and more effective than conventional cancer therapies.
ImmunoCellular’s Stem-to-T-Cell program is designed to provide a novel method of harnessing the immune system to manufacture antigen-specific killer T cells that target and destroy cancer cells and provide long-term immuno-surveillance against tumor recurrence. The Stem-to-T-Cell platform has the potential to address many types of cancer, including both solid and hematological tumors.
Key anticipated near-term milestones in this program include: completion of loading of the T cell receptor DNA sequence into a viral vector during the third quarter of 2017 and transfection of the human hematopoietic stem cells by the loaded viral vector during the fourth quarter of 2017. These transfected stem cells are anticipated to ultimately be able to produce an unlimited supply of killer T cells bearing the desired T cell receptor. The killer T cells are designed to specifically target and destroy tumor cells. This phase of the Stem-to-T-Cell development is an important component of the proof-of-concept work for this technology. Once proof-of-concept has been established, ImmunoCellular can progress to testing in preclinical models.
Immunotherapies are being widely investigated as a way to develop highly specific anticancer therapies. The goal of most of these immunotherapies is to create a population of killer T cells that are programmed to destroy tumor cells. ImmunoCellular’s Stem-to-T-Cell platform represents a novel and more direct approach to generating killer T cells by using the patient’s stem cells as starting material. Thus, ImmunoCellular’s Stem-to-T-Cell technology shares some similarities with other immuno-oncology technologies, such as CAR-T, and could potentially be used in combination approaches. Unlike CAR-T therapies which deliver a large bolus of active T cells into the patient’s circulation and have been associated with toxicity in some patients, ImmunoCellular’s approach enables a more gradual and measured release of killer T cells and has the potential for lower toxicity while also yielding a more sustained response.