Science

Our Cell Therapy Platform Technologies

Tessa Therapeutics is building a portfolio of next-generation therapies derived from two innovative technologies: CD30-Chimeric Antigen Receptors (CD30-CARs) and a specific subset of T cells known as Virus-Specific T Cells (VSTs). We are also developing a novel, allogeneic “off-the-shelf” platform technology that combines the unique properties CD30-CARs and VSTs. This platform anchors our next-generation off-the-shelf cell therapies against a variety of hematologic malignancies and solid tumors.

CD30 CAR-T Cells

CD30 is a validated target of classical Hodgkin lymphoma and some non-Hodgkin lymphomas. Brentuximab Vedotin, a CD30-targeting antibody-drug conjugate, and PD-1 immune checkpoint inhibitors are the latest approved immunotherapies for Hodgkin lymphoma patients.

However, there is still an unmet medical need for patients with relapsed/refractory Hodgkin lymphoma, who face limited treatment options and poor outcomes with current standard therapy. Tessa is developing cell therapies that can potentially provide safe and effective treatment options for this patient type.

Two independent CD30-CAR-T Phase I/II studies conducted by Baylor College of Medicine (Trial Number: NCT02917083), and the University of North Carolina (Trial Number: NCT02690545) – for patients with relapsed or refractory CD30-positive Hodgkin lymphoma – have shown that CD30-CAR T has encouraging efficacy and a favorable toxicity profile.1-2  Results from these trials were recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.3

Tessa will launch a pivotal Phase II clinical study to investigate this autologous CD30-CAR-T cell therapy program targeting relapsed or refractory classical Hodgkin lymphoma.

References:
1 Ramos et.al. Blood (2018)
2 Grover N.S. et al. ASTCT (2019))
3 Ramos et. al. JCO (2020)

Generation of CD30 CAR-T Cells

“In the current trial, we’ve so far analyzed 14 patients treated at Baylor, and 23 patients treated at the University of North Carolina and we have a very encouraging overall response rate that’s more than 70%.”

Dr. Helen Heslop
Director of the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston Methodist and Texas Children’s Hospital

“I think one of the great things about CD30 CAR-T cell therapy that has been shown in the clinical trials from UNC and Baylor is the toxicity profile…It has had no significant neurotoxicity and that is a significant contributor to not only quality of life for patients, but how long they have to stay in the hospital.”

Dr. Sairah Ahmed
Associate Professor, Department of Lymphoma/Myeloma, Division of Cancer Medicine, The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center

Virus-Specific T Cells

“T cells in particular have primarily emerged to control virus infections. If you can have a virus-associated tumor or turn a tumor into a virus type of infection with an oncolytic virus, then you have a very good chance with that T cell of curing that cancer.”

Dr Malcolm Brenner
Scientific Co-founder of Tessa Therapeutics

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

VSTs have shown a strong safety profile and promising efficacy in the treatment of solid tumors.

Activation of VSTs

VST properties may enable broad application in allogeneic setting

Clinical trials have also validated that VSTs can be applied in an allogeneic setting without T cell antigen receptor (TCR) deletion or other genetic modification, while minimizing the risk of graft rejection and other serious reactions associated with current allogeneic cell therapies¹.

VSTs Avoid Graft-versus-host Disease (GvHD)

Low risk of GvHD due to inherent non-alloreactive properties of VSTs2

No TCR Editing Necessary

Unlike other T cells, there is no need for TCR deletion or HLA editing

Ideal Patient Match

Human leukocyte antigen (HLA) and antigen specificity algorithm match patients against Tessa’s bank of donor cell lines

References:
1 Ramos C.A, J Clin Invest (2017)
2  Melenhorst J. J. et al. Blood (2010)

Allogeneic CD30-CAR EBVSTs

Integrating VST and CD30-CAR in an Allogeneic Setting

Tessa Therapeutics is leveraging the unique properties of CD30-CAR and VST in an allogeneic setting to target a variety of hematological malignancies and solid tumors. At the core of this platform, Epstein Barr Virus Specific T Cells (EBVSTs) are augmented with CD30-CAR technology to increase the persistence and expansion of VST cells. This study is conducted in partnership with Baylor College of Medicine.

“One of the future directions with the CD30 CAR (approach) is to evaluate how we can put this CAR into allogeneic Virus-Specific T cells as a platform that would be available immediately… One of the issues in all types of CAR therapy is that when you’re making an autologous product, it can take six to eight weeks to get the product back for the patient. And sometimes the patients can’t wait, and sometimes they’ve had so much previous therapy that it’s hard to manufacture a product from autologous cells. So there’s a lot of interest in looking at allogeneic off-the-shelf products that are available immediately.”

Dr. Helen Heslop
Director of the Center for Cell and Gene Therapy at Baylor College of Medicine, Houston Methodist and Texas Children’s Hospital

Our Scientific Platform & Clinical Evolution