Clinical stage oncology company Prescient Therapeutics (ASX: PTX) has made plans to advance and accelerate its proprietary OmniCAR platform after unveiling two high-profile additions to its scientific advisory board.
The oncology company has appointed physician-scientist Dr Marco Davila from the Moffitt Cancer Center, and bioengineering expert Professor Andrew Tsourkas from the University of Pennsylvania, effective immediately.
It is expected the dual appointments will bring “unsurpassed expertise” to Prescient’s ongoing development work on CAR-T therapies and binder protein engineering.
The company explained the rationale behind the move by stating that Dr Davila and Professor Tsourkas would “bring deep complementary expertise” to its operations and would compliment an existing team of highly credentialed personnel on the scientific board.
Currently, the broader team is comprised of CAR-T expert Professor Phil Darcy, hematologist and CAR-T researcher Professor H. Miles Prince and brain cancer specialist and cell therapy researcher Professor Don O’Rourke.
As a highly experienced clinical developer of CAR-T, Dr Davila is currently regarded as a leading figure in the field and is often invited to address global oncology conferences.
Dr Davila currently works at the Department of Blood and Marrow Transplantation at the Moffitt Cancer Center – one of the largest cancer centres in the US – treating patients with hematologic malignancies with various cell therapies.
Dr Davila’s current research includes pre-clinical development and clinical translation of gene-engineered cell therapies, including CAR-T therapies, for patients with hematologic and solid tumour malignancies.
Moreover, Dr Davila’s research has received widespread acclaim including generous grants and awards from the American Society of Hematology, Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation, the American Society of Clinical Oncology and the American Society for Clinical Investigation, respectively.
“From my clinical experience with CAR-T therapies, as well as their pre-clinical development, I have seen both the early success of this revolutionary therapy in B cell malignancies and also the challenges in translating it to other cancers,” said Dr Davila.
“I am excited by the capabilities of OmniCAR to overcome many of these obstacles and bring gene-engineered cell therapies to many more patients. I am delighted to be appointed to Prescient’s SAB to help guide the development of OmniCAR,” he added.
According to Prescient Therapeutics, OmniCAR is a universal immune receptor platform enabling “controllable T-cell activity” and multi-antigen targeting with a single cell product.
The company says it is the first of its kind: the first universal immune receptor allowing post-translational covalent loading of binders to T-cells.
University of Pennsylvania connection
As well as the addition of Dr Davila to its scientific board to help advance OmniCAR, Prescient is also bolstering its ranks from the University of Pennsylvania and an original co-founder of the technology.
Professor Tsourkas is a co-inventor of the patents developed at Penn and licenced by Prescient to form OmniCAR.
OmniCAR is based on technology first licenced from Penn as well as the so-called SpyTag/SpyCatcher binding system licenced from Oxford University. Given OmniCAR’s development path and close collaboration with Penn’s researchers, Prescient acquired the services of Professor Tsourkas as an organic fit.
“Professor Tsourkas’ particular expertise in the conjugation of proteins is especially relevant to the development of OmniCAR’s binders, which involves incorporating SpyTag into antibodies and other antigen-binding molecules,” the company said.
“It has been wonderful to see the rapid progress of development of OmniCAR since Prescient licenced the underlying patent from Penn last year,” said Professor Tsourkas.
“The rapid, covalent nature of OmniCAR’s binding confers many unique capabilities and advantages over conventional CAR-T approaches. I look forward to assisting Prescient in the development of OmniCAR and its associated binders to address a variety of different cancers,” Professor Tsourkas added.
Over the next 12 months, Prescient expects to expand the cohort read-out for its PTX-100 drug, as well as complete enrolment in the expansion cohort by Q3 2022. Prescient is confident of announcing several “further value-adding milestones” for each OmniCAR program throughout 2022.
In addition, Prescient has confirmed it expects to receive results for its PTX-200 Ph1b AML trial early next year with several cell therapy enhancements expected to come out of stealth mode in the first half of 2022.