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Imugene Licenses Oncolytic Virus From City of Hope to Boost CAR T-Cell Efficacy in Solid Tumors

NEW YORK – Imugene on Tuesday said it has licensed from City of Hope a new cell therapy technology called CF33-CD19, or onCARlytics, which it hopes will improve the ability of CAR T cells to treat solid tumors.

Under the terms of the licensing agreement, Australia-based Imugene will have exclusive, global rights to develop and commercialize the patents covering onCARlytics. In exchange, Imugene will pay City of Hope an undisclosed amount in upfront license fees, annual maintenance fees, performance-based fees, and sublicensing fees.

The onCARlytics technology, developed by scientists at Duarte, California-based City of Hope, is rooted in a genetically engineered oncolytic virus that can induce CD19 expression on the surface of solid tumor cells, thereby making them targetable with anti-CD19 CAR T-cell therapy. Solid tumors don't typically express CD19 on their cell surfaces. According to City of Hope scientist Saul Priceman, although solid tumors haven't benefited from CAR T-cell therapy to the same extent as blood cancers, this combined treatment could overcome the immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment.

Imugene CEO Leslie Chong added in a statement that this technology could potentially be applied to other CD19-targeted therapies such as bispecifics and antibody-drug conjugates.