Published: Apr 05, 2021 By Heather McKenzie
Chimeric antigen receptor (CAR-T) therapy is one of the biggest cancer therapy breakthroughs of our time, but as with any precise science, there is still some fine-tuning to be done to overcome safety risks, limited payload capacity and the prohibitive cost of manufacturing.
“Virus-free systems can overcome most if not all of these hurdles. However, in order for a virus-free system to be effective, we need to have technology breakthroughs that simultaneously achieve high gene delivery to cells, effective multiple gene integration into the genome, as well as robustly expanding engineered cells to reach clinical-scale in a cost- and time-effective manner,” said Dr. Sareina Wu, Ph.D., founder and chief scientific officer of GenomeFrontier Therapeutics Inc., a Taiwanese cancer immunotherapy innovator.
GenomeFrontier’s response is Quantum Engine™. G-Tailor facilitates multiplex gene design, construction and screening. Quantum Nufect™ is an electroporation buffer system that robustly introduces therapeutic genes into T cells while maintaining high viability. Quantum pBac™, a virus-free vector system, possesses a large payload for highly effective gene integration, and cell expansion platform iCellar™ produces clinical-scale CAR-T cells in rapid fashion.
“Using this virus-free qCART system, we are able to produce one to 3.5 billion CAR-T cells in one liter of culture in just 10 to 12 days,” Wu said.
The first test for the qCART will be GF-CART01, a CD19 and CD20-targeting agent for the treatment of hematological B-cell malignancies including lymphomas and leukemias, a program that is currently in pre-clinical development.
“Even though qCART can better demonstrate its power in developing solid tumor treatment, we chose B cell malignancy as our first indication to clinically validate the qCART system in a timely fashion,” Wu explained.
Coming up behind GF-CART01, GenomeFrontier has programs with dual-targeted agents for multiple myeloma and solid tumors.
CAR-T therapies for solid tumors have been less successful than hematologic cancers for several reasons, including an immunosuppressive tumor microenvironment, its specificity. The mix of antigens on the surface of solid tumor cells are heterogeneous and a specific CAR is likely to miss some of the cancer, leading to a recurrence.
“qCART is expected to transform the field given its power to generate multiplex CAR-T cells that have great fitness, potency and persistence to effectively combat the complex solid tumor microenvironment,” Wu said.