Tmunity and UCSF Announce Exclusive License and Research Collaboration to Advance TCR T Cell Therapies for Pediatric Cancers

Note: Hideho Okada, MD, PhD, was a Fall 2015 Catalyst Awardee. His project, "Novel Mutation-derived Neoantigen for T Cell Therapy in Gliomas" is now being out-licensed to the immuno-oncology company, Tmunity.

Hideho Okada
Hideho Okada, MD, PhD, professor of neurological surgery

Tmunity Therapeutics, Inc., a private clinical-stage biotherapeutics company focused on saving and improving lives by delivering the full potential of next-generation T cell immunotherapy, today announced it has entered into an exclusive licensing and research collaboration with the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) aimed at advancing novel engineered T Cell Receptor (TCR) therapies for rare and currently incurable pediatric conditions with high mortality rates. Initially, research will focus on Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), a rare and highly aggressive brain stem tumor.

As part of the research collaboration, Tmunity will work with one of the world’s leading experts in the field of neuro-oncology gene therapy, Hideho Okada, MD, PhD, a physician-scientist and professor of neurological surgery at UCSF who studies immunotherapeutic strategies aimed at malignant brain tumors. Dr. Okada has discovered and engineered a TCR that binds to and is selective for the H3.3K27M neoantigen. Recent studies have shown that the K27M mutation in the H3.3 histone is observed in more than 70 percent of DIPGs, and that gliomas harboring this mutation are associated with a poor prognosis and survival rate. In animal studies, Dr. Okada found that T cells transfected with the engineered TCR and infused into a mouse model of H3.3K27M-positive glioma harboring the K27M mutation in H3.3 had anti-tumor activity and limited toxicity in treated animals.

“This collaboration with UCSF embodies our commitment to advance novel T cell therapies into the clinic faster. Sadly, children who are diagnosed with DIPG currently have very few therapeutic options and there has been little progress in improving treatments and overall survival rates for DIPG over the last few decades,” said Usman “Oz” Azam, MD, President, Chief Executive Officer and Chairperson of the Board of Tmunity. “We look forward to working with Dr. Okada and his research team to help advance this exciting discovery of a novel TCR therapy that could be a potential breakthrough in the treatment of this devastating pediatric disease, and perhaps other gliomas.”

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