GigaMune Wins Grant from National Cancer Institute to Develop Cell Therapy Based on Tumor Infiltrating Lymphocytes

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Novel cancer cell therapy is derived from tens of thousands of T cell receptors.

On September 1, 2018, GigaMune secured a Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant from the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The project is focused on developing novel engineered cell therapies derived from tumor infiltrating lymphocytes (TILs). Currently, clinical researchers at institutions such as NCI isolate patient TILs, expand them in cell culture facilities, and then infuse the cells back into patients. Though this approach can be curative, manufacturing is burdensome, costly, and produces inconsistent results.

GigaMune's approach builds on the success of TIL therapies by making polyclonal libraries of T cell receptors (TCRs) directly from a patient's TILs. These libraries are typically comprised of tens of thousands of TCRs, covering the unique, personalized tumor antigen profile of each individual. The recombinant TCR libraries are engineered en masse into peripheral T cells from the same donor. The engineered T cells are then infused back into the donor as an engineered cell therapy. The "recombinant TIL" therapy retains the polyclonal TCRs of that patient's TILs but does not require the extended cell culture methods used in conventional TIL therapy. The approach promises to be cheaper, faster, and more efficacious than conventional TIL therapies.

The NCI grant will be led by principal investigator Dr. Matthew Spindler, a co-founder of GigaMune, and started on September 5, 2018. Dr. Spindler's grant is valued at $300,000 with the opportunity to win follow-on financing from NCI. The highly selective SBIR program subjects projects to an extremely competitive peer review process, typically funding no more than 10% of applications.

About GigaMune

GigaMune Inc. is a cancer cell therapy company focused on T cell receptor (TCR) discovery and development, founded in 2017 as a spin-out from GigaGen. GigaMune's patented TCR technologies facilitate discovery of rare TCRs from the immune repertoires of patients with exceptional response to cancer. GigaMune's research efforts benefit from a strategic partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. GigaMune's laboratory is located in South San Francisco, California.

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David Johnson
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