Authored by Cello Health BioConsulting, now part of Lumanity

“Why are investors and companies deploying hard earned resources to develop platforms comprised of novel cell types when first-mover T-cells have already demonstrated clinical and regulatory success?”

Perhaps more so than any other modality to date, cancer cell therapies have captured the imaginations and wherewithal of industry, investor, and oncologist communities alike. With dramatic improvements in our understanding of immunology, disease pathology, and gene editing technology, immune cells are readily being modified and manufactured as clinical-grade therapeutic candidates. 

But why should we care about the cells themselves?  More to the point, why are investors and companies deploying hard-earned resources to develop platforms comprised of novel cell types when first-mover T-cells have already demonstrated clinical and regulatory success? 

For those who follow the field closely, the answers to such questions have everything to do with both the excitement for and shortcomings of these first-mover brands: drug resistance, treatment-related or even host-mediated adverse events, manufacturing complexity, protracted vein-to-vein times, unsustainable costs and profit margins, and lack of replicability across tumor types and settings.

While many different gene-modifying tactics are being positioned to further unlock value of established cell types (e.g. CRISPR-mediated knock-out of PD1 in autologous CAR-T candidates), an increasing number of companies believe that engineering alone will be an insufficient substitute for biological properties honed over millions of years within different cell types.

And given the amount of crowding around a limited number of hem-onc targets (CD19, BCMA), competition in this arena will continue to be prohibitive for all but a few until the utility of cell therapies finally begins to encompass at least some if not significant potential across solid tumors. 

The objective of this white paper is to help elucidate the complex biology and positioning strategy being brought to bear in the capital-intensive but opportunity-laden endeavor of advancing novel cancer therapies to market. We provide brief snapshots of different cell types, their potential promise as therapeutic platforms, and the companies developing them.

We’ve profiled Kiadis PharmaIncysus Therapeutics and Kuur Therapeutics in terms of their positioning within the cell therapy landscape based on our recent discussions with their executive management along with our own knowledgebase and in-house cell therapy databases that we curate for clients.