Early-stage biotech company, Regen BioPharma, has started preclinical development on the first cancer immunotherapy using cells extracted from cord blood. The San Diego-based company will focus on developing a therapy targeting the NR2F6 immunological checkpoint.
As part of a provisional patent application, the company plans to create cord blood-derived killer cells, which will be paired with gene silencing techniques to target and destroy cancer cells. The potential benefit of this product – known as ucVax – is that the platform will act as a universal donor for cellular immunotherapy. This means that the cells could be frozen and delivered to site of use, without requiring the hospital or treatment center to perform any complicated cellular engineering.
“Developing a universal donor immunotherapy will substantially reduce costs of clinical implementation and allow for wide access to treatment including at institutions that do not possess cellular processing abilities,” said David Koos, chairman and CEO of Regen BioPharma. “To our knowledge, universal donor cellular immunotherapies have not been developed to date. We believe ucVax will possess both therapeutic and commercial advantages as compared to other immunotherapies.”
Current cancer immunotherapy processes are labor-intensive, involving extraction, manipulation and subsequent re-infusion of a patient’s blood cells. While it has proved to be a promising new tool in cancer treatment, it’s also a costly form of personalized medicine.
Regen BioPharma’s ucVax product is, admittedly, in the very early stages of development, and much more research and development must be performed before the product could ever be used in a clinical setting. What’s more, the company says they’re only planning to develop the product from preclinical to midstage testing, which suggests they’ll be looking for future partners capable of getting the technology to market.
“By using cord blood cells as the starting population for generation of ucVax, we overcome the problem of immune rejection by the patient receiving the therapy, thus potentially allowing the therapy to be used by everyone in need,” said Harry Lander, president and CSO of Regen BioPharma. The biotech’s overall focus is in the regenerative medicine space, with other immunotherapy and stem cell treatments currently in development.