Donate to Science & Enterprise

S&E on Mastodon

S&E on LinkedIn

S&E on Flipboard

Please share Science & Enterprise

Start-Up Licenses UMass Cancer Immunotherapy Technology

Giles Whalen

Giles Whalen (Univ. Massachusetts Medical School)

Agalimmune Ltd., a new start-up enterprise in London, U.K. and Irvine, California, licensed research discoveries from University of Massachusetts Medical School in Worcester to develop treatments for solid tumors that harness the power of the patient’s immune system. Financial details of the agreement were not disclosed.

The technology licensed from UMass, called Alphaject by the company, is based on research by medical school professor Uri Galili who discovered an immune response, called anti-gal, involved in organ transplants. Later research by Galili shows with solid tumor cancers — e.g., breast, lung, skin, and colon — that same immune response can cause the body to reject the tumor.

The Alphaject compound is injected directly into the tumor, coating then destroying metastatic tumor cells and providing a vaccine-like protection against further infection. The body reacts to the injected compound much like it would to an unmatched graft or transplant, breaking down the immune tolerance that protects the tumor’s growth from outside attack. The Alphaject compound, says the company, also endures after the tumor rejection to protect against recurrence of the cancer.

Agalimmune’s lead product is an Alphaject treatment for melanoma, a dangerous form of skin cancer. UMass conducted an early-stage clinical trial of the technology’s potential toxicity with melanoma patients, but also tested for clinical and immune responses.

Giles Whalen, an oncology professor at UMass and principal investigator of the clinical trial, says in a university statement, “What makes Alphaject so remarkable is it’s designed to alert the immune system and respond to a specific type of cancer cell.” Whalen adds, “Unlike other immunomodulatory therapies, which may stimulate the immune system to attack cells indiscriminately, this helps ensure healthy cells don’t get mistakenly targeted and destroyed.”

Agalimmune is backed by venture capital companies Loxbridge Research LLP and Animatrix Capital LLP. UMass’s Uri Galili serves as a scientific advisor to the company.

Read more:

*     *     *

Comments are closed.