NEW YORK – T-Cure Bioscience said on Tuesday that it will extend its research collaboration with the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI) of the National Institutes of Health in order to advance its HERV-E targeting T-cell receptor therapy for renal cell cancer.
Additionally, T-Cure has amended its existing license agreement with NHLBI that expands its worldwide intellectual property rights to the anti-HERV-E T-cell product.
T-Cure and NHLBI have been actively collaborating for the past 18 months to research and develop the HERV-E-specific T-cell receptor therapy, which is currently undergoing a Phase I trial at NHLBI for metastatic clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC) patients who have failed an angiogenic inhibitor and a checkpoint inhibitor.
The company, which is focused on developing autologous T-cell receptor therapies, explained in a statement that this HERV-E-specific T-cell receptor therapy targets one of the dormant Human Endogenous Retrovirus (HERV) sequences that are activated during tumor development. HERV genes and proteins have been found to be expressed in different cancers. Particularly, its expression in renal cell carcinoma appears to be highly selective and is only detected in cancerous tissues but not in any normal tissues.
T-Cure and NHLBI signed a formal Collaborative Research and Development Agreement to expand their existing partnership and develop a companion test to identify HERV-E transcripts in patients' tumors and identify additional therapy candidates targeting HERV-E through T-Cure's proprietary T-cell receptor discovery platform iSORT. NHLBI and T-Cure also plan to conduct preclinical experiments evaluating if combining other drugs with different T-cell receptors can enhance anti-tumor activity.
The T-cell receptor "was isolated from a dominant killer T cell clone of a late-stage metastatic ccRCC patient who responded to an immunotherapy and survived four years," T-Cure CEO Gang Zeng said in a statement. "The HERV-E-specific TCR represents a rare opportunity for us to specifically target ccRCC, a potential T cell responsive solid tumor."