Pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline has entered into a research and licensing agreement with British biotech Immunocore to develop a next-generation "beyond-antibodies" drug technology for cancer and viral diseases. It is hoped that the novel biological drugs, called ImmTACs (Immune mobilising mTCR Against Cancer), will target tumours that cannot be treated using conventional antibody-based technologies.
While monoclonal T cell receptors (mTCRs) and conventional monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) both target diseased tissue, Immunocore display on their website some notable differences between the two technologies.
ImmTAcs, which are mTCRs fused to an effector function, exploit the power of TCRs to recognise intracellular changes – rather than extracellular changes – that occur during cancer or viral infection. This intracellular recognition ability allows ImmTACs to target cancers that cannot currently be effectively treated with mAbs. The most advanced ImmTAC drug, IMCgp100 for melanoma, is currently in Phase I/II trials in the UK and USA.
The partnership is the second for the Oxford-based biotech, with Genentech signing up last month.
If you want to know more about mAbs, ADCs and next generation technology, you might be interested in attending the 9th Annual European Antibody Congress 2013, 11-13 November 2013, Geneva.