Jason Napodano Blog | MabVax Teams Up With Memorial Sloan Kettering To Develop CAR T Products | Talkmarkets

MabVax Teams Up With Memorial Sloan Kettering To Develop CAR T Products

Date: Thursday, June 1, 2017 8:58 AM EDT

On May 31, 2017, MabVax Therapeutics (Nasdaq: MBVX) announced it has entered into a sponsored research agreement with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center (MSK) for the development of novel Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell therapeutics using antibody targeting sequences derived from MabVax fully-human antibodies. The initial focus of the collaboration will be on CA19-9 expressing tumors, including pancreatic cancer and small cell lung cancer.

MabVax will provide the funding and the antibody targeting sequences. MSK, under the direction of Michael Sadelain, MD, PhD, will conduct the in vitro and animal model work, with a goal of completing investigational new drug (IND) enabling pre-clinical studies. MabVax will have certain rights to the new CAR T-cell candidates developed during the collaboration, including an exclusive time-limited option to license MSK's rights in such inventions.

A Little Background On CAR T

CAR-T is the process of retraining the body's own immune system to find and attack cancerous cells. T-lymphocytes (T cells), which play a central role in the body's adaptive immune system, are genetically engineered (transfected) through the use of a virus to express a receptor (binding domain) for certain antigens. These binding domains are derived from variable fragments of a specific antigen-targeting monoclonal antibody joined by a flexible linker. This gives the modified T Cell the specificity of a monoclonal antibody to target tumor-associated antigens found on cancer cells. Newer generation CAR-T therapies include one or more co-stimulatory domains (CD28, 41BB, OX40) that lead to enhanced cytotoxicity and cytokine secretion with prolonged persistence.

The initial success of CAR T has been in treating B cell malignancies by targeting antigens such as CD19 or CD20, found on both healthy and malignant B cells. Once returned to the patient, these engineered T cells actively find and kill B cells in an effort to eliminate leukemia or lymphoma from the body. Scientists are now starting to have success treating solid tumors by targeting antigens such as EGFR, HER2, and MSLN.

Collaboration Could Develop Superior CAR T Technology 

The goal of the MSK-MabVax collaboration is to develop CAR T-cell therapeutics using antibody targeting sequences derived from MabVax fully-human antibodies. This could provide a meaningful safety and duration advantage over CAR T therapeutics that use the binding domains from mouse antibodies. This is the exact strategy that Novartis (NYSE: NVS) is now deploying with CTL119, a next-generation version of CTL019.

One of the binding domains will be from MabVax clinical-stage candidate, HuMab-5B1. HuMab-5B1 is a fully human monoclonal antibody that targets the tumor-associated antigen CA19-9. CA19-9 is found in 92% of pancreatic cancers and its expression is correlated with more aggressive disease. Other solid tumors that express high levels of CA19-9 include stomach, endometrium, uterus, and colorectal cancers.

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