As it gets ready to bring the first engineered red blood cell therapy into the clinic, Rubius Therapeutics Inc. is working up the next generation of RBC therapies to mimic immune cell interactions. The company is exploiting the cells’ unique biology to expand its pipeline beyond enzyme replacement into cancer and autoimmunity.
Rubius’ strategy is to engineer immune responses by putting the right combination of antigens, cytokines or costimulatory molecules on RBC surfaces. The idea is that when embedded in RBC membranes, these proteins will form high avidity interactions with receptors on immune cell surfaces.
“By expressing hundreds of thousands of copies of those agonists in the right conformation on the surface of the cell, we create these cell-cell interactions, mimicking and amplifying the way the immune system works,” said CEO Pablo Cagnoni.
Rubius’ Red Cell Therapeutics platform brings a new set of features to the cellular immunotherapy repertoire. Its cells stay in the circulation, which cuts down toxicity risk in immuno-oncology, and are cleared by a tolerizing pathway in the liver that