SAN JOSE, Calif., Nov. 20, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- ITUS Corporation (NASDAQ: ITUS) today announced that it has entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) with Moffitt Cancer Center, to advance toward human clinical testing, a Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-Cell (CAR-T) technology aimed initially at Ovarian Cancer, and eventually additional solid tumors. This technology was developed at The Wistar Institute and licensed by ITUS through its majority-owned subsidiary corporation, Certainty Therapeutics, Inc.
Dr. Amit Kumar, President and CEO of ITUS stated, "Our program with Moffitt will be led by a group of stellar scientists and physicians. We are excited to advance this program which we hope will be the first or one of the first CAR-T technologies that shows efficacy for solid tumors. CAR-T technology is a new adoptive cell therapy that has shown tremendous efficacy for refractory cancer patients suffering from B-cell cancers. However, to date, there have been no reports of success on solid tumors in humans."
Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, Florida is one of the top cancer centers in the country with tremendous pre-clinical and clinical expertise with CAR-T technology. Moffitt has conducted many of the highest profile CAR-T trials in the world.
This CAR-T technology is initially focused on Ovarian Cancer, by engineering killer T-cells with the Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH) to target ovarian cells that express the FSH-Receptor. The FSH-Receptor was shown to be a very exclusive protein found on a large percentage of ovarian cancer cells, but not on other healthy tissue. Data on this technology, including the animal studies showing efficacy, can be found in, Clinical Cancer Research, 23(2) January 15, 2017, 441-453.
Dr. Kumar further stated, "Moffitt researchers will work with us to complete all of the studies necessary to submit an IND (Investigational New Drug) application with the US FDA. Successive to the FDA's review and permission, we hope to take this therapy into human clinical testing for patients suffering from ovarian cancer."
Jose Conejo Garcia, M.D. Ph.D., the Principal Investigator and co-inventor of this technology at the Wistar Institute, is now at Moffitt. "We are pleased to work with ITUS and Dr. Kumar and his team to take this technology to the next stage. We are looking forward to eventually seeing this technology tested in human patients against ovarian cancer, for which there are few good options," said Dr. Conejo Garcia.
Marco Davila, M.D., Ph.D., an oncologist with extensive experience in CAR-T cell therapies, will co-lead the IND enabling work. "As someone that's worked on both the pre-clinical and clinical development of CD19-targeted CAR-T cells I have seen first-hand the power of gene-engineered T cell therapies. However, a major obstacle to the adaptation of this technology, especially to solid tumors, is the safety of the protein targets. The FSH-receptor is an ideal tumor target similar to CD19 since it is widely expressed on tumor cells, but has minimal expression on normal cells. We are hopeful that this could represent the first non-B cell, malignancy that responds to a CAR-T cell therapy," stated Dr. Davila. Other scientists involved in the translation of this technology at Moffitt are Linda Kelley, Ph.D., Director of the Cell Therapy Facilities and Daniel Abate-Daga, Ph.D., an expert of cellular therapies.
Dr. Kumar concluded, "We want to leverage the years of work and millions of R&D investment that has gone into this technology at The Wistar Institute as well as the expertise and infrastructure of Moffitt, to take this therapy into human clinical testing, for a modest cost. If we truly are able to demonstrate that this is the first or one of the first CAR-T approaches that works as a therapy for solid tumors in humans, the value to cancer patients and to our shareholders would be tremendous. This initiative conforms to our business strategy of working with top academic centers to develop technologies and products, followed by partnering with corporate allies for further development and commercialization. Such a strategy enables us to get to inflection points in value with modest capital expenditures."
Conference Call Information
ITUS will hold a conference call on Tuesday November 21, 2017 at 5:00 p.m. EST to discuss this program. Dr. Kumar will host this call. To access the call, please dial (866) 966-5335 five minutes prior to the start time. A replay of the call will be available at www.ITUScorp.com for 10 days after the call.
ITUS, a cancer-focused biotechnology company, is harnessing the body's immune system in the fight against cancer. Its wholly owned subsidiary, Anixa Diagnostics Corporation, is developing the CchekTM platform, a series of non-invasive blood tests for the early detection of solid tumor based cancers, which is based on the body's immunological response to the presence of a malignancy. Its majority owned subsidiary, Certainty Therapeutics, Inc., is developing CAR-T based immuno-therapy drugs which genetically engineer a patient's own immune cells to fight cancer. ITUS also continually examines emerging technologies in complementary or related fields for further development and commercialization. Additional information is available at www.ITUScorp.com.
About Moffitt Cancer Center
Moffitt is dedicated to one lifesaving mission: to contribute to the prevention and cure of cancer. The Tampa-based facility is one of only 49 National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, a distinction that recognizes Moffitt's excellence in research, clinical trials, prevention and cancer control. Moffitt is listed as one of the top 10 cancer hospitals in the nation and has been listed in U.S. News & World Report as one of the "Best Hospitals" for cancer care since 1999. Moffitt devotes more than 2 million square feet to research and patient care. Moffitt's expert nursing staff is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center with Magnet® status, its highest distinction. With more than 5,600 team members, Moffitt has an economic impact in the state of $2.1 billion. For more information, call 1-888-MOFFITT (1-888-663-3488), visit MOFFITT.org, and follow the momentum on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.
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