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Adaptimmune brings tools in the fight against cancer, HIV/AIDS to Science Center

Imagine cancer treatment without debilitating chemotherapy and damaging radiation. Researchers in the field of fighting cancer and infectious diseases have recently come up with a way to remove, edit and replace patients' own cells to turn them into cancer and HIV super soldiers in the body. Adaptimmune LLC, one of University City Science Center's newest tenants, is the first company of its kind to develop a methodology for generating high affinity T cell receptors. Dr. Gwen Binder-Scholl, the Vice President of Operations at Adaptimmune, says that this powerful approach is a major departure from previous forms of cancer and infectious disease treatment, offering the advantage of much higher potency with far fewer side effects.

Traditional chemotherapy attacks any rapidly dividing cell in the body, knocking out cancerous tumors, but also killing cells that generate hair and mucous membranes. In this new treatment paradigm, T cells, which are the body's immune soldiers, are harvested from the patient, modified and placed in cell factories to grow, and then returned to the patient via vaccine. The whole process takes only three weeks from manufacture to release, according to Binder-Scholl, so that cancer and HIV can be treated fairly quickly.

"We are really the only company taking the next step towards commercialization of adoptive T cell therapy with high affinity TCRs," says Binder-Scholl, who has been working on T cell receptor research at the University of Pennsylvania'sAbramson Family Cancer Research Institute for about three years at the June Laboratory under the guidance of professor Carl June, MD. Binder-Scholl explains that Adaptimmune, a subsidiary of a UK company, approached her to manage and carry forth U.S. clinical trials. While Adaptimmune already has a close relationship with Penn, its overseas leadership qualifies it for the SciCenter's Global Soft Landing Program.

This month, Adaptimmune is opening three new oncology indications: a trial for melanoma, which is very common, and trials for the less frequently occurring cancers synovial sarcoma and multiple myeloma. Depending on how the clinical trials go, Binder-Scholl expects to see data emerge within 12 months and hopes to get approval for the experimental treatment with the decade. Read More

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Kristen Fitch

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