iBET joined a European consortium, led by OneChain Immunotherapeutics (OCI), a spin-off of the Josep Carreras Leukemia Research Institute, and funded by the European Innovation Council (EIC) Transition Challenge, working to develop a promising CAR-T therapy against leukemia.
T-type acute lymphoblastic leukemia (T-ALL) remains a clinical challenge. Despite improved survival rates due to intensive chemotherapy regimens, 90% of patients ultimately die.
Strategies targeting T-cell malignancies using immunotherapies (including CAR-Ts) remain challenging due to the shared expression of target antigens between normal and malignant T-cells, ultimately leading to life-threatening immunodeficiency, which limits therapeutic efficacy.
The novel therapy will use a subtype of T-cells (gammadelta), which are produced in the laboratory and are allogeneic, eliminating donor dependency.
“Treatments as personalized as CAR-Ts, which only work for one person, are unfeasible in a public healthcare system. On the other hand, if you have a universal therapy applicable to all types of patients, you reduce costs, the process is simpler, and you can treat the patient on demand” says Dr Victor Diaz (Research Director of OCI).
Another innovative feature of this CAR-T therapy is being directed at the CD1a protein; a safe target hardly present in healthy T-cells.
The project is expected to last three years, aiming to develop the therapy and bring it to the clinical practice.
Along with OCI and iBET, the project will also involve the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute and the Severo Ochoa Center for Molecular Biology (CBMSO).
iBET will be playing a key role in translating the production process to the industrial level, coordinated by
Margarida Serra, Head of Stem Cell Bioengineering Lab.