Home Interviews Elicera teams up with China Medical University for cancer study

Elicera teams up with China Medical University for cancer study

Elicera teams up with China Medical University for cancer study

Elicera teams up with China Medical University for cancer study

17 June, 2024

Elicera Therapeutics has announced a new research collaboration with the Fourth Affiliated Hospital of China Medical University to assess the efficacy of oncolytic virus ELC-201 in preclinical proof-of-concept studies. This collaboration will explore the potential of ELC-201 across various solid tumour indications. BioStock turned to Elicera’s CEO Jamal El-Mosleh to learn more.

As made evident in Elicera Therapeutics’ Q1 report, the Swedish gene therapy company is advancing steadily with its CAR T project, ELC-301. Clinical evaluation of the candidate is around the corner, with the CARMA phase I/IIa study already approved by the Swedish authorities. This will be the first in-patient assessment of Elicera’s immune-enhancing gene therapy platform, iTANK. Read more about CARMA here.

The iTANK factor

iTANK is a key asset for the company. The platform can be used to arm any T-cell receptor therapy, including those already on the market, in order to trigger a parallel broad immune response against cancer and also to help overcome the otherwise very hostile microenvironment in solid tumours. This increases the commercial opportunity for iTANK, as well as its appeal for partnerships.

In fact, the company has already capitalized on the technology through Material Transfer Agreements. The latest came earlier this year with a prominent, still undisclosed, cancer centre based in the US to evaluate iTANK in a novel CD4-directed T-cell receptor therapy (TCR-T). Read all about the agreement here.

Oncolytic viruses in the spotlight

Elicera’s pipeline is not solely focused on CAR T therapies. The company also has two oncolytic viruses in development as potential cancer therapeutics: ELC-100 and ELC-201.

Like ELC-301, ELC-201 is armed with iTANK, and is being tested against a range of tumour targets to evaluate its potential. Being an oncolytic virus, ELC-201 is designed to selectively infect and kill cancer cells. Upon infection, the virus multiplies, causing the cancer cells to rupture and die. This process also releases the iTANK molecule NAP, which triggers a broad immune response against the tumour.

Strong interest in Elicera’s candidate

Just this week, Elicera announced entering a research collaboration with Fourth Affiliated Hospital of China Medical University (CMU4). Under the guidance of Dr Li Xuexin, Director of the Biomedical Innovation Center at CMU4, the research will utilise organoids derived from cancer patients to analyze the safety and efficacy of ELC-201 across multiple solid tumour indications, including pancreatic cancer, gastric cancer, triple-negative breast cancer, renal cell carcinoma and non-muscle invasive bladder cancer.

This new collaboration follows Elicera’s latest partnership with Baylor College of Medicine (BCM) for the production of ELC-201 for upcoming clinical trials. BCM has been instrumental in supplying viral vectors, ensuring the production adheres to Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) standards. The partnership with BCM is expected to expedite the clinical development of ELC-201, highlighting Elicera’s strategic efforts to advance its innovative cancer therapies. Read more about this here.

CEO insights

BioStock reached out to CEO Jamal El-Mosleh to get more insights on the new collaboration.

Jamal, what makes ELC-201 unique?

– ELC-201 is an oncolytic virus therapy applicable for treatment of any solid tumour. What makes our drug candidate unique is that we have armed it with the iTANK platform in addition to yet another immune stimulating factor (4-1BBL) to really activate and stimulate a parallel immune response against cancer. This makes ELC-201 potentially very effective in treating multiple types of solid tumours.

Jamal El Mosleh, vd Elicera Therapeutics
Jamal El-Mosleh, CEO Elicera Therapeutics

Could you expand on the significance of this collaboration?

– We are excited about this collaboration as it will give us a great opportunity to explore the broad potential of ELC-201 to treat multiple solid tumour indications. In addition, we will assess the activation of immune cells within the tumour microenvironment, which will also shed more light on the contribution of the iTANK-platform and 4-1BBL transgene.

Could you tell us more details about the collaboration in terms of what each party brings to the table?

– Elicera will supply CMU4 with the materials and information needed to conduct the preclinical proof-of-concept studies, and CMU4 will be responsible for conducting said studies.

What are organoids, and how do they add value to this research?

– Patient-derived organoids (PDOs) are very small, three-dimensional mini-versions of a patient’s own organs. They are created in a lab using cells taken from a patient’s tissue, such as a piece of a tumour or a sample from an organ. PDOs can be used to test ELC-201 in a way that’s much closer to how the oncolytic virus would work in the patient’s body.

Which indications will be looked at?

– Since ELC-201 has potential to effectively treat multiple solid tumours, Elicera has conducted an in-depth indication analysis in order to support decision-making regarding the positioning of ELC-201 to one or several solid tumour indications. The indication analysis was performed taking into consideration several different parameters from both commercial and scientific, development perspectives. The indications that will be studied in this collaboration are the ones that were shortlisted as the most interesting for ELC-201.

How will you be able to leverage the results from these studies?

– The results will guide our decision-making regarding future clinical studies but will also further build our knowledge base for the iTANK platform, this time also applied in oncolytic viruses.

When will we see ELC-201 in the clinic?

– We have already produced GMP-material for upcoming clinical studies and are now actively looking for partnerships and/or soft funding opportunities to move ELC-201 into patient studies.

The content of BioStock’s news and analyses is independent but the work of BioStock is to a certain degree financed by life science companies. The above article concerns a company from which BioStock has received financing.

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