- Anti-cancer company Prescient Therapeutics (PTX) has received two licences to build a new cell therapy platform
- The licenses come from the University of Pennsylvania and Oxford University and will help Prescient create its OmniCAR platform
- OmniCAR is designed to provide effective and safe anti-cancer cell therapy treatment
- Conventional cell therapy comes with safety risks and can be ineffective against solid tumours
- OmniCAR is being designed to mitigate these risks and make the treatment more effective
- Shares in Prescient are trading over 11 per cent higher today, currently worth five cents each
Anti-cancer biotech company Prescient Therapeutics (PTX) has received two key licences to build a new cell therapy platform.
Prescient revealed today it has received an exclusive licence from the University of Pennsylvania for a universal immune cell receptor technology platform invented at the university.
The company has also received a non-exclusive licence from Oxford University to use its SpyTag and SpyCatcher molecular binding system.
Prescient says it will combine the two technologies with its other assets to build a new universal cell therapy platform dubbed OmniCAR. The new tech is designed to counteract some of the shortcomings of conventional cell therapy for cancer treatment.
The problem with cell therapy
The use of cell therapy to treat cancer has brought about a "paradigm shift" in cancer treatment, according to Prescient.
The treatment works by modifying a cancer patient's own cells to recognise and then kill cancer cells that would ordinarily be hidden from the immune system. Prescient said Penn is a world leader and pioneer in the cell therapy field.
Cell therapy has brought about unprecedented response rates for patients with certain types of blood-related cancers.
But while it's been groundbreaking, cell therapy is not without its downsides.
A key risk involved in cell therapy is that clinicians have no control over the cell therapy products once they have been infused into a patient. This means if any toxicity is found as a result of the treatment, there's not much the clinician can do.
Further, Prescient said many conventional therapies can only direct cells to target a single cancer antigen. This means if a cancer mutates or expresses different antigens, the cell therapy becomes less effective. According to Prescient, this is particularly relevant in solid tumours.
This is where OmniCAR comes in.
How OmniCAR works
Prescient explained that the new OmniCAR platform will be created to overcome the drawbacks of conventional cell therapy.
The way Prescient explains it, OmniCAR creates "modular chimeric immune receptor cells" that can be armed with the cancer-targeting binder separately. The unarmed cells remain inactive until they are infused with the binder, after which they can target, bind to, and kill tumour cells.
It's this separate administration of the binders to the cell creations that makes OmniCAR effective.
Clinicians have greater control over cell therapy because they can adjust and fine-tune cell therapy activity based on a patient's response.
What's more, the new tech comes with a built-in "kill switch" for the cell therapy: if a clinician wants to stop the therapy altogether, they simply need to stop administering the binders.
Perhaps even more importantly, however, OmniCAR cell therapy products can attack multiple types of cancers by simply switching out the binder. This means if a cancer antigen mutates or there are multiple types of cancers in the body, the clinician can administer the appropriate binder at will so that the cells target the right area.
Prescient Therapeutics CEO Steven Yatomi-Clarke said the OmniCAR tech is "uniquely placed" to service an unmet need in the world of cell therapy.
"There are significant medical and commercial benefits for companies that can develop improved cell therapy products," Steven said.
"It is particularly exciting, for example, for us to progress this revolutionary technology for attacking solid tumours, as well as liquid cancers," he said.
Prescient said the terms of today's licensing agreements are non-dilutive for shareholders and there is no immediate material financial impact from the signing of the deals.
Licensing payments, however, include an upfront fee, some milestone payments and royalties on future sales.
Importantly, Prescient said the pre-clinical development program for OmniCAR falls within the company's current budget.
Shares in Prescient are trading 11.11 per cent higher after today's news, currently worth five cents each.