Cardiff University & Ervaxx close in on universal cancer immunotherapy
Ervaxx has entered a licensing and research collaboration with Cardiff University over its recent discovery of a new strain of immune T-cells with the potential to act as universal cancer immunotherapy.
Ervaxx is a biotechnology company pioneering the use of Dark Antigens to develop T-cell receptor (TCR)-based immunotherapies and off-the-shelf cancer vaccines.
As part of the licensing deal, Ervaxx will collaborate with Cardiff University’s T-cell modulation group in hopes of developing universal cancer immunotherapy based on the newly discovered strain of T-cells.
In addition, the partners will develop other immunotherapies based on a different type of T-cells that are able to target so-called ‘dark antigens’ which are proteins that are only made by some cancer cells.
Ervaxx’s new collaboration will support a multi-year research programme with Cardiff University’s T-cell modulation group, consisting 16 researchers with a diverse skill and knowledge base that covers all areas of T-cell biology including T-cell genetics, molecular biology, protein chemistry, crystallography, and cell biology.
Head of the T-cell modulation group, Andrew Sewell says, “Ervaxx’s Dark Antigens, which are derived from the 98% of the genome that does not encode known proteins, constitute a promising and yet untapped source of targets for immunotherapies.”
Sewell believes that this collaboration will use Cardiff University’s world-class expertise in T-cell biology to identify T cells and TCRs reactive to those targets and pave the way for a new wave of treatments in cancer, and potentially other areas.
Sewell’s team has already made significant in-roads in this area of research. His team’s most recent discovery, published in Nature Immunology, identifies a T-cell clone that targets MR1 to recognise and kill cancer cells irrespective of cancer type.
He adds that this discovery offers a significant breakthrough in the development of a universal cancer immunotherapy. Upon validation through a pre-clinical model, this research will open the prospect of immunotherapies with broad utility across patients with diverse cancers.
These findings broaden Ervaxx’s exploration of novel cancer-specific antigens.
CEO of Ervaxx, Kevin Pojasek said, “We are excited to announce this collaboration with Sewell’s world-class research group. We have great hope that through the combination of this expertise with our Dark Antigens™ and application of our EDAPT™ platform, we will be able to identify further targets to expand our portfolio of TCR-based therapies and cancer vaccines.”
Posajek also expressed that while still in its early stages, these findings already shows immense potential for the treatment of cancers.
This partnership with Cardiff University, follows Ervaxx’s partnership with several other universities including the University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine.
Posajek adds that these collaborations reinforces Ervaxx’s ambition to collaborate with leading academic institutions and to be at the cutting edge of the T-cell immunology field that drives the development of novel off-the-shelf cancer therapies.