SUDA Pharmaceuticals (ASX: SUD) has announced that they have received global rights for a standalone cell therapy platform used to treat cancers.
SUDA has a formal agreement in place with London-based cancer research centre Imperial College for a cutting-edge oncology drug platform with IP protection until 2038.
According to Dr Michael Baker, CEO of SUDA Pharmaceuticals, “We’ve found a new, cancer-fighting technology. A very special one. One that coupled with our current technologies can place SUDA in the foreground of companies implementing the latest in technological achievement for cancer research.”
Cell therapy is a type of immunotherapy that involves leveraging a patient’s own immune cells and genetically altering them to target cancer cells in the body. According to Imperial College, the platform is derived from “supercharged” cells called invariant natural killer T (iNKT), which represents the next generation of CAR-T therapies.
Existing technologies that transfer healthy cells to a cancer patient have the risk of developing graft versus host disease (GVHD), where the patient’s healthy cells are seen as “foreign” and therefore at risk of damage by the incumbent donor T cell. To avoid GVHD, conventional CAR-T cell therapy is made unique to every patient, which results in an expensive production process.
However, SUDA’s iNKT cell therapy platform protects against GVHD and can therefore be administered “off the shelf” to multiple patients from one healthy donor.
“Due to the ‘off the shelf’ factor, our treatment has been estimated to significantly reduce the cost in comparison to current cell therapy treatments,” says Baker.
According to Paul Hopper, Chairman of SUDA Pharmaceuticals, “Cell therapy is cutting edge in the oncology field but it is limited by virtue of the manufacturing process. Our technology follows similar protocols but with one major difference. The product will be developed from a healthy individual and once the cells have been prepared for use, they can be frozen and stored to be used when required.”
While off-the-shelf treatments are cost-effective and with an improved supply chain, they are also more likely to yield better activity as they are produced from a healthy donor, rather than a patient with cancer.
While conventional therapies take the sample from a sick patient, during this three to four week period the patient’s condition may deteriorate, precluding them from continuing with the therapy. Producing the product from a healthy donor reduces this risk while also providing cells that are stronger, having not been affected by chemotherapy or cancer.
In preclinical studies, testing on mice, the CAR19-iNKT cell therapy treatment outperformed conventional cell therapies by eliminating cancer cells more quickly and prolonging survival in more mice. In addition, CAR19-iNKT cells eliminated brain lymphoma in more than 70 per cent of the animals. While in four mice the lymphoma returned, they all experienced a secondary remission leading to their long-term survival.
“These findings highlight that the CAR19-iNKT cells can enter the brain and retain their cancer-fighting qualities long enough to eradicate the disease upon its return. A one, two punch as it were,” says Baker.
SUDA’s patented iNKT cell therapy platform will first be directed to treat blood cancers that have a marker known as CD1d on their surface. According to Baker, for cancer cells that do not have this marker, CAR19-iNKT cells work as well as existing cell therapies, while for cancers with the CD1d marker, “the technology outperforms conventional immune cells, all while having a product that can be stored frozen, ready for use as needed.”
This article was published as part of Which-50’s Digital Intelligence Unit, the company’s paid content arm.