December 1, 2014
Unum Therapeutics Announces Start of First Phase I Clinical Trial of Cellular Immunotherapy Targeting CD20+ Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia and Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma
Pilot study represents first clinical assessment of antibody-coupled T-cell receptor (ACTR) technology, Unum’s proprietary universal cellular immunotherapy platform
CAMBRIDGE, MA, December 1, 2014 – Unum Therapeutics, a company developing a universal cellular immunotherapy to treat multiple cancers, announced today that recruitment has begun in the first clinical trial of the ATTCK20 therapy. The Phase I study will examine the feasibility, safety and potential efficacy of infusing the ATTCK20 combination therapy in patients with B-cell malignancies and persistent disease following standard therapy. The clinical program commences shortly after the company’s official launch in October 2014.
“Despite recent advances in cancer treatments, there are still far too many individuals with B-cell malignancies who die from their disease,” said Chuck Wilson, PhD, President & CEO of Unum Therapeutics. “With these unmet medical needs fueling our efforts, we are excited to see the start of clinical testing for ATTCK20. This novel therapy leverages two of the strongest immunotherapy technologies in modern medicine – engineered T-cells and monoclonal antibodies – to target cancer.”
ATTCK20 Clinical Trial
Antibody-Targeted Tumor Cell Killing (ATTCK) happens when T-cells expressing an antibody-coupled T-cell receptor (ACTR) engage a tumor-targeting antibody on the surface of a cancer cell. ATTCK20 is a combination of a patient’s ACTR T-cells administered with rituximab, a monoclonal antibody targeting CD20. The first Phase I dose escalation study for ATTCK20 is taking place in Singapore at National University Hospital (NUH) and Singapore General Hospital (SGH). T-cells from patients in the study are processed at the Tissue Engineering & Cell Therapy (TECT) Laboratory at NUH. The Hematology-Oncology Research Group Trial Unit within the National University Cancer Institute, Singapore (http://www.ncis.com.sg/) manages and supports all aspects of the clinical trial. At present, the unit is conducting over 60 clinical trials, many of which are Phase I and II studies. The Hematopoietic Progenitor Cell Transplant Program is the only one in Asia accredited by the Foundation for the Accreditation of Cellular Therapy (FACT).
“This study is designed to translate recent laboratory findings into clinical application,” said Unum’s Scientific Founder Dario Campana, MD, PhD. “The efficacy of ACTR T-cells shown in our preclinical studies, together with the demonstrated feasibility of infusing autologous T-cells, forms a compelling rationale for the clinical testing of this novel approach. We look forward to enrolling patients in the ATTCK20 study and will continue to plan for additional clinical studies to leverage our ACTR technology with tumor-targeting antibodies in other types of cancer.”
ACTR AND ATTCK20
ACTR is a chimeric protein that combines components from receptors normally found on two different human immune cell types – natural killer (NK) cells and T-cells – to create a novel cancer cell killing activity. As reported earlier this year in the journal Cancer Research, T-cells bearing the ACTR receptor can be armed to attack a tumor by combining with a monoclonal antibody that binds antigens on the cancer cell surface. CD20 is expressed on cancer cells from many patients with chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL). Rituximab, an antibody specific for CD20, is currently part of standard therapy for these indications. Studies carried out in Dr. Campana’s laboratory show remarkable enhancement in the activity of rituximab when it is armed with ACTR T-cells.
Unum has built a platform for cancer treatment based upon ACTR. In contrast to other approaches that are limited to a single target and treat a narrow set of tumors, Unum’s approach is not restricted by antigen and may have applications for treating many types of cancers. The ATTCK20 study will be the first clinical trial to assess clinical candidates engineered with the ACTR technology.
About Unum Therapeutics
Unum Therapeutics uses proprietary T-cell engineering technology in combination with tumor-targeting antibodies to activate the body’s own immune system to fight cancer. Unum’s lead program, based on its Antibody-Coupled T-cell Receptor (ACTR) technology, recently entered Phase I clinical testing to assess safety and efficacy. Unum is seeking partners interested in using the ACTR technology to arm proprietary tumor-specific antibodies with a T-cell to improve their therapeutic potential. The company is headquartered in Cambridge, MA. For more information, visit www.unumrx.com.