NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--TIO Bioventures today announced the launch of TCRyption Inc., a novel TCR-T cell therapy company, with the goal of expanding the availability of T-cell receptor based cellular therapeutic (TCR-T) options as effective and safe therapies across multiple cancers with a high unmet need. The company’s highly diverse and growing TCR bank utilizes the proprietary TCRypt platform, originally created by Dr. Naoto Hirano at University Health Network’s (UHN) Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. With unparalleled sensitivity in its ability to mine physiologically relevant TCR’s, this platform enables the rapid discovery of an expansive bank of TCRs that can be used to better address patient needs. TCRyption was established with an initial $10 million in seed financing from TIO Bioventures.
“Unlike chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T cell therapies, TCR-T’s are engineered to express tumor-specific TCRs with patient-informed specificity based on patient HLA haplotype,” said Dr. Naoto Hirano, Scientific Co-Founder of TCRyption and Senior Scientist and Associate Director of Research for the Tumor Immunotherapy Program at Princess Margaret Cancer Centre. “Early clinical success was demonstrated with TCR-T recognizing HLA-A2 restricted epitopes for NY-ESO-1 in patients with synovial sarcoma and myeloma. Unfortunately, the inclusion criteria of HLA-A2 is highly restrictive for patient enrollment. Using our proprietary TCRypt platform, we aim beyond HLA-A2. We hope to implement TCRs from our bank, recognizing more diverse class I and II alleles, to extend this treatment modality to serve new HLA patient populations, targeting new epitopes, and addressing new cancer types.”
TCRyption was co-founded by the pioneers of T cell biology, Dr. Mark Davis and Dr. Tak Mak, who originally discovered the TCR, considered the “Holy Grail of Immunology.” Drs. Mak and Davis bring together a team of visionaries, including Dr. Hirano and Dr. Pam Ohashi, also at UHN’s Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, who harbor profound expertise in TCR biology and cutting-edge technologies that will push the development of next generation immunotherapies with broad applicability to a large array of solid and liquid tumors and diverse patient populations.
Advisory board members include Dr. Tak Mak, who in addition to his work in TCR is a veteran of the biotech industry with proven commercial success. Dr. Mak is a co-founder of three biotech companies including Agios Pharmaceuticals, which has two approved cancer drugs.
“A great company has been created here in Toronto to translate UHN’s and Princess Margaret’s ground-breaking immunotherapy research into new therapies for cancer patients across the globe,” said Dr. Bradly Wouters, UHN’s Executive VP of Science and Research. “UHN and our local community are creating some of the world’s best technologies in life sciences and subsequently commercializing them through the creation of well-financed companies with great teams and R&D happening right here in Toronto.”
About TIO Bioventures
Tio Bioventures is a boutique venture creation firm focused on funding the advancement of biotechnology companies that are guided by its principles of employing rigorous, research-driven science to create first-in-class cancer medicines that improve survival and quality of life. Unlike a traditional venture fund, TIO Bioventures leverages its internal TIO Discovery and development engine to efficiently drive its portfolio companies through key catalysts with a ‘hands-on’ approach in partnership with its founding scientists. The TIO Discovery engine is a fully functioning organization, featuring drug discovery, R&D and early stage clinical development capabilities that provide deep support for TIO Bioventures companies as they move into further stages of development.
Currently, the firm has multiple portfolio companies in development including: Treadwell Therapeutics, a clinical-stage oncology company, TCRyption, a differentiated T cell therapy company, and a biologics-focused oncology company with novel lead candidates identified.