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£59 million towards trialling revolutionary T-cell cancer treatments

UCL spinout company Autolus has secured £59 million of investment to develop T-cell therapies that could revolutionise the way cancer is treated.

The Autolus research team, which includes BRC supported Dr Martin Pule, are developing novel treatments that enable the patient’s own immune system to fight the primary cancer and could help the body to better fight secondary cancers. If successful, the approach could open up a new of era of cancer therapies.

The funds will enable Autolus to bring next-generation engineered T-cell therapies, based on the work of Dr Pule, a clinical haematologist at the UCL Cancer Institute and consultant at UCLH, to trial in a wider range of haematological cancers, paving the way to treat solid tumours and potentially revolutionising cancer therapies.

The £59 million investment from Cormorant Asset Management, Nextech Invest and others augments the previous £70 million investment from Healthcare technology investment company Syncona Ltd, Woodford Investment Management and Arix Bioscience.

Professor Bryan Williams, Director of the University College London Hospitals Biomedical Research Centre, which was pivotal in setting up the partnership that aided the formation of Autolus, said: “Today’s announcement is another reflection of the success of our BRC enterprise strategy. Our NIHR-supported clinical research infrastructure has been crucial in us taking this cutting-edge therapy forward into clinical trials.”

Dr Christian Itin, Chairman and CEO of Autolus, said: “We welcome our new shareholders and the continued support of our existing investors, and are looking forward to delivering on the exciting promise of our growing pipeline of engineered T cell product candidates. Since our inception three years ago, Autolus has made substantial progress with two dual targeting programs in three clinical studies, a novel program for T-cell lymphoma’s clinic ready and a unique suite of cell programming technologies established for use in haematological and solid cancers. With the new financing we are well on our way to building a premier fully integrated Oncology Company that harnesses the unique power of T cells to combat cancer.”

T-cells are part of our immune system which normally kill infected cells. T-cells can be taken from a person’s blood sample, grown in the laboratory and ‘re-programmed’ to recognise and kill cancer cells just as they would naturally attack an infection. This re-programming is achieved by introducing a gene for an artificial protein called a chimeric antigen receptor, or CAR for short.