Our Science

“Tessa has a unique focus on making use of viruses as a driver for therapeutic treatments of cancer, and that’s very important because T cells in particular have primarily emerged to control virus infections.”

Dr Malcolm Brenner
Scientific Co-founder of Tessa Therapeutics

Our Approach

“Successful cancer immunotherapy treatments mimic core aspects of the body’s anti-viral immune response.”

The body’s natural anti-viral immune response is characterized by precision, potency and persistence. These are the qualities we seek in the cure for cancer.

We employ our understanding of the body’s anti-viral immune response to rationally design the next generation of cancer treatments. Our core technology redirects the innate and adaptive arms of anti-viral immunity to create a sustained anti-cancer immune response.

Platform Technology

What is a Virus-specific
T cell (VST)?

VSTs are a type of T cell produced specifically in response to a viral infection. These cells have the ability to recognize and kill infected cells while activating other parts of immune system for a coordinated response. VSTs persist in the body and activate a rapid immune response if the virus is encountered again.

VSTs can recognize viral antigens located on the surface of the tumor. After infusion, the VSTs migrate to the tumor site and bind to the viral antigens. The act of binding causes the release of cytotoxic granules from the VSTs that destroy the cancer cells.

VSTs eliminate tumor cells

Tessa Therapeutics’ VST platform has shown clinical safety and efficacy in treating solid tumors1. VSTs can overcome key limitations faced by other T cell therapies and have shown:

Solid Tumor Efficacy

Strong Evidence of Efficacy

Complete and partial responses observed in several indications, including advanced nasopharyngeal cancer, cervical cancer, and neuroblastoma1-4


Excellent Safety Profile

No Grade 3 or higher adverse events observed with VSTs as a single agent, with genetic modifications (including CARs), or in allogeneic setting1-15

Clinical Durability

Promising duration of response

Complete responses ongoing at 13 months (cervical cancer)2 and 24 months (EBV+ lymphoproliferative disease)13. VST persistence over 8 years post-infusion7


1 Chia W. K., et al. Mol Ther. 2014;
2 Ongoing trial (NCT02379520);
3 Louis C. U., et al. J Immunother. 2010;
4 Pule M. A., et al. Nature Medicine. 2008;
5 Straathof K., et al. 2005;
6 Louis C. U., et al. 2009;
7 Heslop H. E., et al. 2010;
8 Ongoing trial (NCT02578641);
9 Bollard C. M., et al. J Clinical Oncology. 2018;
10 Ahmed, N., et al. JAMA Oncology, 2017;
11 Louis C. U., et al. Blood. 2011;
12 Ahmed N., et al. J Clinical Oncology. 2015;
13 Ongoing trial (NCT02287311);
14 AACR 2015. Abstract CT107 (2 trials);
15 ASCO 2016. Abstract 3012

How is our VST Platform widely applicable?

Tessa’s VST platform technology can be used with a wide range of next generation therapies.

We are pursuing a number of trials using rational combinations that hold the promise of significantly enhancing both the reach and the potency of our therapies.

VSTs & Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR)

CAR VSTs combine the safety, durability, and persistence of VSTs with antigen specificity of a CAR.  Tessa has a range of other CAR targets in various stages of pre-clinical development.

VSTs & Oncolytic Viruses

Oncolytic viruses selectively replicate and destroy cancer cells. Combining VSTs with oncolytic viruses boosts the innate and adaptive immune response against the tumor.