The public-private consortium made up of Integra Therapeutics, Pompeu Fabra University (UPF) and the Josep Carreras Leukaemia Research Institute (IJC) has received a grant of €1,230,732 from the Spanish State Research Agency (AEI) to develop new genetic engineering technology for a CAR-T therapy to treat T-cell acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (T-ALL).
The funds are a competitive grant through the 2021 State Programme to Promote Scientific-Technical Research and its Transfer (formerly known as Retos Colaboración).
Integra Therapeutics will lead the project, lasting until 2025, which will use its FiCAT gene-writing platform to build next-generation CAR-T immunotherapy for T-ALL that can be silenced if any adverse effects arise, and has increased efficacy in targeting cancer cells, preventing relapses.
From the UPF and IJC, the science teams involved will be the Translational Synthetic Biology Lab led by Dr Marc Güell and the Stem Cell Biology, Developmental Leukaemia and Immunotherapy Lab led by Dr Pablo Menéndez.
T-ALL is an aggressive tumour caused by out-of-control growth of the cells that produce T-lymphocytes, and makes up 10-15% of all cases of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in children and 25% of those in adults. Treatment with chemotherapy has improved patients’ prognosis, but the high relapse rate makes it urgent to develop safer, more effective advanced therapies that eliminate leukaemia-initiating cells (LIC), which are also responsible for relapse. In addition to chemotherapy, this project aims to improve the CAR-T therapy used in the clinic today that has improved the treatment options for many of these patients.
Integra Therapeutics has also recently been awarded a Eurostars grant for €1 million from the European Commission.