Ervaxx™, a biotechnology company pioneering the use of Dark Antigens™ to develop T-cell receptor (TCR)-based immunotherapies and off-the-shelf cancer vaccines, has entered a licensing and research collaboration with a leading T-cell immunology group at Cardiff University (Cardiff, UK).

The new collaboration will support a multi-year research program with Prof. Andrew Sewell’s T-cell modulation group at Cardiff University focusing on the discovery and characterization of T-cells and TCRs reactive to cancer-specific antigens and ligands, including Ervaxx’ proprietary Dark Antigens™. Ervaxx will fund the program.

The collaboration will also advance exciting new research published earlier this week by the Cardiff University team in Nature Immunology1, where they identified a T cell clone that recognized and killed multiple different types of human cancer, while remaining inert to non-cancerous cells. The T cell clone targets MR1, an MHC class 1-related protein, via an unidentified cancer-specific ligand. These exciting findings, validated in a preclinical model, open the prospect of immunotherapies with broad utility across patients with diverse cancers. This approach into previously unexplored cell surface epitopes complements and extends Ervaxx’s exploration of novel cancer-specific antigens.

Under the agreement, Ervaxx gains an exclusive license to relevant Cardiff University patents claiming T cells and TCRs reactive to cancer-specific antigens. The Company has the right to advance resulting candidate T-cell/TCR-based immunotherapeutics and cancer vaccines through development and commercialization. Cardiff University is eligible to receive milestone payments on any candidates that advance from the discovery collaboration into clinical development and royalty payments on sales of any products that reach the market.

Prof. Andrew Sewell, Head of the T-cell modulation group, Cardiff University, commented: “Ervaxx’s Dark Antigens, which are derived from the 98% of the genome that does not encode known proteins, constitute a promising and yet untapped source of targets for immunotherapies. This collaboration will use our world-class expertise in T-cell biology to identify T cells and TCRs reactive to those targets and pave the way for a new wave of treatments in cancer, and potentially other areas. This includes our most recent discovery, published in Nature Immunology, of a T-cell clone that targets MR1 to recognize and kill cancer cells, irrespective of cancer or human leukocyte antigen (HLA) type, offering opportunities for pan-cancer, pan-population cancer immunotherapies.”

Source: Company Press Release