Empowering T cells with tumor-specific T cell receptors (TCR-Ts)
Patient-derived T cells are modified for adoptive T cell therapy with selected and pre-clinically tested T cell receptors (TCR-Ts). TCR-Ts for any selected tumor antigen are generated using Medigene’s TCR-T platform, based on knowledge obtained in more than 30 years of research. Medigene’s growing portfolio of different TCR-Ts have the potential to treat broad patient populations suffering from various types of cancer.
Medigene’s TCR-T platform offers unique advantages:
- Originating from Medigene’s TCR-T platform, TCR-Ts with selected specificities are isolated and characterized and subsequently assessed to potentially treat various types of blood cancers and solid tumors.
- Isolated TCR-Ts are of natural origin and are chosen to have optimal affinities and hence the TCR-Ts do not need mutational engineering to improve their capacity to find and bind tumor cells.
- The TCR-T platform can deliver TCR-Ts recognizing a variety of different tumor antigens, representing either common antigens shared by tumors or patient-individual neoantigens.
- TCR-Ts for both CD4+ and CD8+ T cells can be generated, which recognize peptide fragments presented by different MHC class I and MHC class II alleles, providing greater potential to for effective treatments to larger numbers of patients.
How adoptive T-cell therapy works
- The TCR-T is introduced into the patient T cells using a vector system.
- Modified T cells are expanded to large numbers in 10-15 days.
Structure and function of T cell receptors
T cells are distinguished from other lymphocytes by the presence of T cell receptors (TCRs) on the cell surface. TCRs allow T cells to identify cancer targets, e.g. tumor-targeted antigens presented on the surface of the tumor cells. Each T cell receptor is a heterodimeric protein complex composed of one TCR α chain and one TCR β chain. The TCR heterodimers consist of a variable and a constant region. The polypeptide chains are linked together. Each variable region provides a single antigen-binding site. The TCR is associated with a CD3 complex, which combines three transmembrane signaling molecules. TCRs recognize a peptide fragment of a TAA presented by a major histocompatibility complex (MHC) molecule on the target cell. The activation of the T cell to kill the cancer cell starts upon simultaneous binding of a T cell co-receptor complex (CD4+ or CD8+ complex with CD3) to activate the T cell.
Medigene’s TCR-T pipeline
Medigene’s TCR-T pipeline is being built to contain a collection of TCR-Ts that recognize different antigens which are expressed by various types of tumor. Upon completion, Medigene’s TCR-T pipeline will enable individuals of diverse patient populations to be matched for the treatment with TCR-Ts according to their MHC molecules and specificities for antigens expressed by tumor cells. The pipeline is built by natural TCR-Ts with optimal affinities that can be expressed in CD4+ or CD8+ cells, selected by their specificities. Peptide fragments presented by different MHC molecules (both MHC class I and class II allotypes) can be targeted by TCR-Ts to treat different types of tumor.
Clinical status of Medigene’s TCR therapies
In March 2018, Medigene announced the start of the Phase I/II clinical trial with its TCR-T therapy MDG1011 for the treatment of various types of blood cancers. It is planned to include approximately 92 blood cancer patients with acute myeloid leukemia (AML), myelodysplastic syndrome (MDS) or multiple myeloma (MM). MDG1011 is Medigene's first clinical TCR-T immunotherapy product candidate.
In addition, Medigene is collaborating with the Max-Delbrück-Center (MDC) and Charité Hospital in Berlin (Germany) to start an investigator initiated (IIT) TCR study in Germany for patients with relapsed or refractory multiple myeloma (MM). This IIT is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (Bundesministerium für Bildung und Forschung; BMBF) over the next years. Patients’ T cells will be equipped with TCR-Ts recognizing the tumor-targeted antigen MAGE-A1. The Charité Hospital will conduct and sponsor the study. The MDC is responsible for GMP production and cellular analytics. Medigene provided regulatory support and consulting on validated analytics and GMP production.