For many years, the cornerstones of cancer treatment have been surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Recent years have seen the emergence of cancer immunotherapy, in which treatments harness the power of a patient’s immune system to combat their disease.
T cells are a type of white blood cell that form part of the immune system’s natural protection against cancer and infection. Normally our T cells can detect and eliminate abnormal or cancerous cells but sometimes these cells can escape detection and develop into tumours.
To overcome this problem Autolus is applying its advanced cell programming technologies and specialised manufacturing processes to develop programmed T cell product candidates.
We use powerful Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CARs) or T-cell receptors (TCRs) to reprogramme T cells to recognise and kill the tumour cell.
We have developed our own proprietary viral vector and semi-automated cell manufacturing processes, which we are already using in our clinical-stage programmes.
CARs are membrane-bound proteins, combining the tumour-recognition properties of an antibody with the naturally occurring T cell activation mechanism.
TCRs are naturally occurring membrane-bound T-cell activating proteins, engineered to recognise cancer-specific proteins presented on the surface of cancer cells.
A personalised treatment
Our next-generation T cell programming technologies allow us to tailor our therapies to address the specific cancer we are targeting and introduce new programming modules into a patient’s T cells to give those T cells improved properties to better recognise cancer cells and overcome fundamental cancer defence mechanisms.
The breadth of our technology platform allows us to select from a range of programming modules, and our modular approach is designed to enable us to tailor our therapies to address the specific cancer we are targeting, or to improve an already established therapy, such as by making it suitable for outpatient use. We believe this capability represents a competitive advantage in the field and will allow us to
position our product candidates to have the potential to be best-in-class.
Our programming modules are designed to provide a host of key benefits as described further below:
Advanced cell programming technology
Engineered T cell immunotherapy products show significant efficacy for haematological malignancies. However, realisation of the potential of this approach across a broad range of tumour types will require multiple technology solutions to address limitations of the current generation of therapies. Autolus is applying its extensive cell programming capability to develop a pipeline of precise, controlled and highly active products.
Autolus is applying pattern recognition technology to engineer T cells with that are designed to enhance selectivity for tumour cells, sparing healthy cells and avoiding unwanted side effects.
Autolus has developed technologies to modulate T cell activity or eliminate programmed T cells in the event of severe side effects that have been observed with these types of therapies.
Autolus has developed a technology that is designed to deliver a cytokine signal directly inside its programmed T cells without administration of cytokines themselves. Depending on the tumour microenvironment, the cytokine persistence signal may be further enhanced by antigens secreted by the tumour. Autolus believe its approach will be more potent and will have the potential to be less toxic, when compared to approaches that rely on systemic or local delivery of cytokines.