Recent immunotherapies have demonstrated the potential to cure tumors and have revolutionized the treatment of cancer. To date, these immunotherapies are only applicable to small subsets of tumors (ie. CAR T cells for liquid tumors and immune checkpoint inhibitors for solid tumors). Most cancer patients currently do not benefit from these therapies. One of the major bottlenecks preventing broader use of immunotherapies is the knowledge of tumor-specific antigens. Our work is focused expanding curative immunotherapies to patients in need by identifying the tumor-specific antigens and developing antigen-specific immunotherapies including CAR T cells, bispecific antibodies and TCRs.
We work at the interface of multiple technologies including genomics, proteomics, protein engineering, computational biology, developing molecular technologies and immunology. Our work has led to the discovery of novel highly specific tumor targets and the development of a novel class of immunotherapies, peptide-centric CARs (PC-CARs). We have discovered the ability of PC-CARs to target peptides across multiple HLA types, significantly expanding the patient populations eligible for these therapies. Taken together, these approaches have the potential to significantly expand the cancers that benefit from immunotherapies. Clinical trials are slated for 2023 for first-in-class PC-CARs.
Part of our current work is focused on developing CARs and PC-CARs in additional cancer types. We work on developing and deploying new multi-disciplinary approaches and technologies at each stage of pre-clinical development: tumor target discovery, target validation, therapeutic development and preclinical testing. In addition to cancer, we have applied these techniques to developing a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine and are applying these techniques to autoimmune diseases. A major long term focus is to generating technologies and methods that enable the use of personalized CAR T cells for all patients.