Glycotope and the Max Delbrück Center Have Commenced a Collaborative Research Effort to Investigate the Synergistic Application of Glycotargets Alongside Car Technology

Monday, September 25, 2023

Glycotope GmbH (Glycotope) and the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in the Helmholtz Association have recently entered into a collaborative agreement. This partnership aims to explore the potential of combining Glycotope's antibodies, which are designed to target protein/carbohydrate combined glyco-epitopes known as GlycoTargets, with the chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) technology developed by the Max Delbrück Center.

Chimeric antigen receptors (CARs) are synthetic receptors engineered to redirect lymphocytes, predominantly T-cells, to identify and eliminate cells expressing specific target antigens. These cell-based therapies have demonstrated considerable promise in clinical trials and are increasingly considered as alternatives to conventional treatments, particularly for hematologic cancers. However, challenges arise when applying CAR-T cell therapies to solid tumors. A critical challenge is identifying suitable antigens that are exclusively expressed on tumors to ensure safe and effective targeting. Within this newly established collaboration, the partnership aims to combine Glycotope's highly tumor-specific antibodies with Max Delbrück Center's CAR technology to assess their suitability for treating solid tumors.

Dr. Armin Rehm, who leads the Translational Tumorimmunology Lab at the Max Delbrück Center, emphasized, "CAR-T cells have revolutionized the treatment of hematologic malignancies. In contrast, CAR-T cells have faced limitations when addressing solid tumors, which are more prevalent than leukemia and lymphoma. Solid tumors, such as breast, lung, prostate, and colon cancers, pose a significant therapeutic challenge with current T cell therapies. However, antibodies possess the capability to target tumor-associated abnormal glycosylation patterns, making them attractive and tumor-specific targets. This characteristic, combined with their broad tumor-specific expression, holds the potential for the development of glycan-redirected CAR-T and NK cells. Therefore, we are collaborating to usher in a new generation of CAR-T and NK cells." Dr. Höpken, Head of the Lab Environmental Regulation in Autoimmunity and Cancer at the Max Delbrück Center, echoed Dr. Rehm's sentiments.

"We are delighted to welcome another esteemed collaboration partner and eagerly anticipate collaborating with the experienced scientists from Uta's and Armin's groups to evaluate how our targeting approach can advance cellular therapies for solid tumors," added Dr. Patrik Kehler, CSO at Glycotope.

Glycotope's antibodies are designed to target specific tumor-associated carbohydrate structures or protein/carbohydrate combined glyco-epitopes known as GlycoTargets. Targeting these specific antigens offers a wide range of applications, long-term treatment potential, and reduced on-target/off-tumor toxicity—critical elements of potent therapies. Due to their unparalleled tumor specificity, Glycotope's antibodies are highly adaptable for a multi-functional platform approach, providing tailored therapy options for as many patients as possible.

The Max Delbrück Center's CAR program encompasses a variety of proprietary antibody binders targeting hematologic tumors. This program includes full preclinical validation, a clinical-scale automated manufacturing platform, and the launch of two phase I/II clinical trials in collaboration with clinical partners. A comprehensive molecular toolbox of modular CAR components enables the swift integration of new antibody binders. Profound expertise in CAR design, retroviral engineering for CAR transfer, regulatory guidance from authorities, and established methods for generating T cell and NK cell effector populations for in vitro and in vivo testing will facilitate the incorporation of innovative antibodies into their next-generation CAR platform, which targets tumor-associated glycan structures.

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