CCRM, a Canadian nonprofit that develops regenerative medicine technologies, and Affigen will collaborate on the development and commercialization of a closed platform that produces targeted therapies personalized for a patient’s cancer. The platform will first be developed for patients with B-cell lymphoma and leukemia, but the partnership is expected to expand to other cancer types.
The goal of the new partnership is to create a platform that can produce single-patient batches of therapeutics in a clinically relevant timeframe and at a commercially viable scale and cost. The approach could ultimately be used to achieve safe, long-term remissions and cures of currently incurable cancers.
“Our first tumor targets include B-cell lymphomas and leukemias — these cancer types have long been known to harbor proteins that are unique to these tumors, and that are nearly ideal targets for immunotherapy. The historical challenge with drugging these targets has been that they are genetically random from patient-to-patient, which makes manufacturing a particularly difficult challenge to overcome,” Carlos Santos, PhD, chief executive officer of Affigen, said in a press release.
“Our team has unique experience and expertise in developing closed, highly-automated platforms for single-patient-batch therapeutics. As we looked for a process development partner that could allow us to scale and to meet our aggressive requirements and timelines, it became clear that CCRM was the perfect fit,” Santos added.
Personalized cancer medicine helps doctors learn about an individual’s genetic makeup and how their tumor grows. With this information, prevention, testing, and treatment strategies can become significantly more effective. Simultaneously, personalized approaches may cause fewer side effects than standard options and may reduce the risk of the risk of the cancer returning.
The type of treatment to be used in the partnership’s approach targets a cancer’s specific genes and proteins, which it needs to survive.
This approach, however, depends on finding out whether a specific tumor has a certain target, which is found by testing a sample of the tumor. But personalized cancer treatments are not yet available for all types of cancer.
CCRM is funded by the Canadian government and other academic and industry partners. Their work supports the development of regenerative medicines and associated technologies that focus on cell and gene therapy.
CCRM will conduct the work in its recently inaugurated development facility in the MaRS Discovery District in Toronto, Canada. Work related to this project is anticipated to be completed in early 2019.
Affigen, headquartered in the Cortex Innovation District in St. Louis, Missouri, houses a growing team of experts in immuno-oncology, mass-personalized biomolecular engineering, and complex therapeutic development to deliver a new class of therapeutics that optimizes anti-tumor activity and treatment safety in patients with critical needs.