EATG » Immunocore and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation collaborate to develop immunotherapies for infectious diseases

Immunocore and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation collaborate to develop immunotherapies for infectious diseases

$40 million investment to accelerate development of Immunocore’s ImmTAV® and ImmTAB® therapeutics for infectious diseases, in particular tuberculosis and HIV

(Oxford, UK and Conshohocken, US 18 September 2017) Immunocore Limited, the world’s leading TCR company developing biological drugs to treat cancer, infectious diseases and autoimmune diseases, today announced an investment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support the development of Immunocore’s soluble TCR-based therapeutics for infectious diseases.

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will invest up to $40 million in Immunocore to support development of Immunocore’s ImmTAV (Immune mobilising monoclonal TCRs Against Virus) and ImmTAB (Immune mobilising monoclonal TCRs Against Bacteria) therapeutics for infectious diseases that pose a global health challenge. The collaboration will discover and develop ImmTAV and ImmTAB molecules for the treatment of tuberculosis (TB) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) where the TCR-based therapeutics have the potential to reduce treatment timelines and improve patient outcomes. Immunocore will also continue expanding its platform technology to enable therapeutics with broad coverage of the affected disease population.

The investment by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was made as part of its programme-related investments (PRI) strategy, which aims to stimulate private sector-driven innovation, encourage market-driven efficiencies and attract external capital to priority global health and development initiatives that improve the lives of the world’s most vulnerable people.

Viral and bacterial infections are among the leading global causes of morbidity and mortality. The global burden of tuberculosis is staggering – up to one-third of the world’s population are latently-infected with 10.4 million new active cases and 1.8 million deaths occurring annually.  Additionally, despite the progress that has been made around treatment and prevention, there are over 1.8 million new HIV infections and 1 million deaths each year.

This new collaboration is part of a larger initiative within Immunocore to apply its soluble TCR-based therapeutics to areas outside of oncology, including infectious diseases and autoimmune diseases. In 2016, Immunocore published preclinical data in Molecular Therapy that demonstrated the potential of Immunocore’s ImmTAV molecules to redirect the immune system to kill HIV-infected cells from patients treated with antiretroviral therapy, thus facilitating clearance of reactivated latently infected HIV reservoir cells. These data, coupled with the clinical efficacy and safety profile emerging from the Company’s lead programme, IMCgp100 in oncology, set the foundation for the application of the Immunocore platform technology across multiple diseases.

Eliot Forster, Chief Executive Officer at Immunocore, commented: “Many infectious diseases continue to represent a huge and growing global challenge. We’re delighted and honoured that the Bill & and Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the most significant forces for positive change in global healthcare, has recognised the potential of Immunocore’s platform technology for advancing novel therapeutics for infectious diseases such as TB and HIV.”

Chris Karp, Director of Discovery & Translational Sciences at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation commented:The foundation is committed to supporting and translating scientific research that can have transformative impact on those conditions that cause the greatest burden of morbidity and mortality in the world at large. We are excited to support the development of Immunocore’s TCR-based platform because we believe these treatments have the potential to make a fundamental difference in the lives of patients infected with TB and HIV.”

Namir Hassan, Vice President of the Infectious Disease Unit at Immunocore, commented: We believe the immune system harbours the capacity to resolve problematic infectious diseases and our TCR based therapies are well placed to mobilise this process. Our purpose in the Immunocore infectious disease unit is to revolutionise treatments for diseases such as hepatitis B, tuberculosis, and HIV and provide affordable medicines globally including in the developing world.  This collaboration will be critical to this initiative.”

About Immunocore

Immunocore is the world’s leading T cell receptor (TCR) company, a global biotech striving to change medical practice in the most challenging disease areas.  Immunocore is focused on delivering first-in-class biological therapies for patients, deploying its pioneering product platform, the soluble TCR technology platform. This new class of TCR-based bi-functional drug with ultra-high affinity for intracellular cancer targets, which is based on synthetic, soluble T cell receptors (TCRs) that naturally recognize cells containing disease specific targets and selectively kill them. Unlike most biological treatment modalities, this platform technology can address both extra and intracellular disease targets. These TCR-based therapeutics can access up to nine-fold more targets than typical antibody-based therapies, including monoclonal antibodies. Immunocore’s TCR technology has a broad applicability to a wide range of intracellular targets and disease indications including solid tumours, infectious diseases and autoimmune diseases.

Across the oncology pipeline, Immunocore has collaborations with Genentech, GlaxoSmithKline, MedImmune (the biologics division of AstraZeneca) and a co-discovery and co-development partnership with Lilly across a range of solid tumours. Immunocore’s wholly-owned lead programme, IMCgp100, is in a pivotal monotherapy trial in patients with metastatic uveal melanoma.  This study builds on the first ever demonstration of compelling single agent efficacy in a solid, ‘cold’, low mutation tumour – which is challenging for the majority of currently available immuno-oncology agents to address. The Company has also entered into combination trials with IMCgp100 in metastatic cutaneous melanoma, with MedImmune and in metastatic uveal melanoma with Lilly.

Immunocore is headquartered near Oxford, UK with offices near Philadelphia, US and currently employs more than 365 staff.  The Company is privately held by a broad international and private investor base. For more information, please visit www.immunocore.com.

About ImmTAV® and ImmTAB(TM) Molecules and Infectious Diseases             

ImmTAV (Immune mobilising mTCR Against Virus) and ImmTAB (Immune mobilising mTCR Against Bacteria) molecules are novel small protein molecules that, like ImmTAC (Immune mobilising monoclonal TCRs Against Cancer) molecules, enable the immune system to recognize and kill diseased cells, in this case, virally or bacterially infected cells. ImmTAV, ImmTAB and ImmTAC molecules resemble each other in appearance and function, although ImmTAV and ImmTAB molecules are designed to specifically recognise and kill virally or bacterially infected cells.

The broad applicability of Immunocore’s proprietary technology platform lends itself to multiple disease areas including oncology, infectious diseases and autoimmune disease. For further information regarding the technology platform see About ImmTAC molecules below.

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