Syncona and UCL Business Form Cancer Immunotherapy Company Autolus

Backed with roughly $45.5 million, Investment company Syncona and UCL Business, the wholly-owned technology transfer company of University College London, have launched the latest CAR T upstart, Autolus Limited.

According to the companies, Autolus is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and commercialization of next-generation engineered T-cell therapies for hematological and solid tumors, founded upon the work of Dr. Martin Pule, an academic clinical hematologist and thought-leader in T-cell engineering. Pule will serve as Chief Scientific Officer of Autolus

Autolus is getting £30 million ($45.5 million) from Syncona in a Series A financing. Dr. Christian Itin, former CEO of Micromet and a leader in the cancer immunotherapy field, will serve as the Chairman of the company. In 2012, Micromet was acquired by Amgen for $1.2 billion, a deal which provided Amgen with Micromet’s blinatumomab, a bispecific T cell engager (BiTE) antibody.

The chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) immunotherapies field is currently a popular area of research, with hopes that these drugs may one day have the potential to change cancer therapy. T cells can be extracted from the patient and re-programmed to recognize and kill cancer cells.

“A key element to Autolus’ strategy is to progress CAR T-cell products quickly into clinical trials, leveraging our strong partnership with UCL. The company has engaged a team of thought-leading academics in London as advisors, and will perform its Phase 1 clinical studies and manufacturing within the academic infrastructure of the city, including the integrated cancer clinical trials infrastructure at University College Hospital and the expert cell therapy manufacturing facility at the UCL Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond Street Hospital,” said Itin.

Autolus is a next-generation engineered T-cell company, developing a series of CAR T-cell products based on its proprietary targets, constructs and technologies.

“It is exciting to be involved in Autolus, where we have an opportunity to bring innovative new therapeutic approaches to patients who often have no alternative treatment path. The key will be to remain at the cutting-edge of T-cell engineering to create a new generation of programmed T-cells acting as autonomous agents to kill tumor cells. What we’ve seen so far in the CAR T-cell field is only the beginning,” said Pule.

Source: Syncona Partners

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