US immuno-oncology pioneer Agenus has set up at Cambridge Science Park in the UK technology cluster with a small team but big intentions to grow.
The Nasdaq-quoted business has taken the whole building at the former Domantis building at the park occupied by a maiden team of eight. Domantis was sold to GSK for £230 million at the end of 2006.
Agenus has been committed to the field of immuno-oncology for the past 20 years. In the past several years it has expanded its capabilities by adding state of the art platforms and technologies to enable the company to discover, develop, and manufacture key technologies.
These include a series of strategic transactions to expand scientific and technological capabilities as well as collaborations with corporate, academic and clinical entities.
The company – headquartered in Lexington Mass – is positioned to discover and develop a broad range of innovative therapeutic antibodies and vaccines through focused efforts to assemble a uniquely comprehensive arsenal of complementary technologies.
Since its founding, the company has pursued a nobjective of targeting the immune system to fight disease, while building a broad and flexible immuno-oncology pipeline based on deep expertise in the field of immunology. Agenus’ comprehensive approach to cancer immunotherapy includes a diverse portfolio of antibodies including checkpoint inhibitors and other checkpoint modulators, vaccines and adjuvants.
The company believes that combination therapies and the ability to profile cancer patients will be key drivers of success in substantially expanding the patient population benefiting from current immuno-oncology therapies.
Cancer vaccines are designed to train the immune system to attack cancer cells. To create a cancer vaccine candidate, Agenus takes antigens specific to cancer cells and combines them with a delivery vehicle such as a virus. The presence of a cancer antigen in the context of a viral infection alerts the immune system that the antigen is detrimental and should be eliminated from the body.
Cancer vaccines have the potential to exhibit efficacy in their own right and may also pair optimally with our checkpoint platforms to elicit effective anti-cancer immune responses. This is expected to be particularly relevant in settings in which cancer cells are not recognised as ‘non-self’ by the patient’s immune system.
Agenus’ vaccine platforms use its own proprietary vector systems based on heat shock proteins (HSPs), well-known surveyors of the proteins in the cell. HSPs are involved in transporting other proteins or smaller protein fragments from the interior of the cell to the cell surface for detection by the immune system. HSPs play a natural role in immune recognition of proteins unique to cancer.
The company’s driving force is coisidered to be Garo Armen – co-founder, chairman and chief executive officer of Agenus Inc., which was formerly known as Antigenics Inc – a biotech that discovered Oncophage, a personalised cancer vaccine approved in Russia for patients with earlier-stage kidney cancer.
• PHOTOGRAPH SHOWS: Garo Armen
from Business Weekly http://ift.tt/2d5q8Il