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Apr 27, 2015
 |  BioCentury  |  Product Development

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How MaxCyte, JHU Kimmel Cancer Center plan to develop safer CARs for solid tumors

MaxCyte Inc. is collaborating with the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at The Johns Hopkins University to develop transiently expressed chimeric antigen receptor T cell therapies that may allow better control over the cells' therapeutic window. MaxCyte hopes the approach will enable the therapies to safely target antigens expressed on solid tumors.

Under a deal announced Tuesday, MaxCyte and the center will collaborate on preclinical development of CAR T cell therapies directed against solid tumor targets, starting with mesothelin. Other targets, as well as financial terms, are undisclosed.

MaxCyte will design and provide technology to manufacture the CAR T therapies, and retain the data and rights to resulting products. The partners will co-develop on-site manufacturing capability for the therapies at the center.

The partners expect to expand the agreement to include pre-IND studies and Phase I/II human proof-of-concept studies under terms that are not yet determined. The cancer center would be responsible for conducting the pre-IND and clinical studies and could submit an IND as early as next year.

Though chimeric antigen receptor therapies have achieved encouraging early results in hematologic cancers, they haven't been easy to adapt to treat solid tumors, in part because of the difficulty in finding suitable target antigens that aren't also expressed on normal tissues at levels that could lead to unacceptable levels of toxicity.

For example, CARs for solid tumors that target carbonic anhydrase IX (CAIX) have been associated with liver toxicity, and one patient with colon cancer died in 2009 after receiving a CAR against HER2 that caused pulmonary toxicity and edema followed by a cytokine storm.

Rather than giving up on antigens with limited but non-negligible expression on normal tissues, MaxCyte plans to mitigate their on-target toxicities with T cells...

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