Our Science

R&D Philosophy

Platform Technology

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.


Tumor recognition with minimum side effects or toxicity.


Efficient tumor clearance.


Long-term immunity to prevent the recurrence of 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 due to the following intrinsic properties:

Broad Antigen Specificity

Polyclonal population of VSTs recognize multiple viral antigens1

Proven Solid Tumor Penetration

Complete and partial responses observed in patients with advanced nasopharyngeal carcinoma1,2

Long-Term Persistence

Long term persistence over 10 years demonstrated by gene-marked VSTs3

1 Chia WK et al. Mol Ther 2014
2 Louis CU et al. J Immunother 2010
3 Heslop H et al. Blood 2010
4 Cruz CR et al. CytoTherapy 2010

How is our VST Platform widely applicable?

Tessa’s VST platform technology can be used with a wide range of next generation therapies. VST efficacies can be improved by genetic modifications and rational combinations.

We are pursuing a number of trials using complementary technologies 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. Combination of the two are being used to treat squamous cell head and neck cancers in an upcoming Phase 1 clinical trial.