Unum Raises $12 million in Funding for ACTR-Based Cancer Treatment

Oct 24, 2014

Unum Therapeutics, a cellular immunotherapy company designed to treat cancer, announced it raised $12 million in Series A funding. Fidelity Biosciences and Atlas Venture led the funding initiative, with participation from Sanofi-Genzyme BioVentures. Unum was built to develop cancer treatments based upon antibody-coupled T cell receptors (ACTRs).

“We’ve created Unum to rapidly develop this universal cell therapy platform and to explore its potential in a number of different cancer types. With our Series A funding from Fidelity Biosciences, Atlas Venture, and Sanofi-Genzyme BioVentures, we will drive our lead program into Phase I testing and aim to quickly validate the ACTR approach in the clinic,” said Charles Wilson, PhD, president and CEO of Unum, in a press release.

The University of Pennsylvania and The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia recently revealed successful clinical trial results when using genetically modified T cells from cancer patients to treat specific blood cancers with chimeric antigen receptors (CARs). The difference between CARs and ACTRs is that Unum Therapeutics’ approach uses modified T cells to attack various types of tumor cells using targeted antibodies, whereas CAR T cells are engineered to attach to a specific target by way of an antibody domain.

“In ACTR, we have effectively replaced the scFv domain with the extracellular domain of CD16. This protein acts as an Fc receptor and is able to bind a wide range of antibodies … By fusing CD16 to the components required for T-cell signaling, ACTR is essentially able to impart T cells with ADCC [Antibody-Dependent Cell-Mediated Cytotoxicity] activity. By co-administering ACTR T cells plus a tumor-targeting antibody, T cells are targeted to attack and kill a tumor based on the specificity of the targeting antibody,” said Dr. Wilson in an email to Pharmaceutical Technology.

Source: Fidelity Biosciences

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