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The Silicon Review Asia

TESSA THERAPEUTICS: Cure Cancer and Save Lives with Innovative and Widely Accessible Immunotherapies

The Silicon Review
December, 2019

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Tessa’s story started over 30 years ago, when Dr. Malcolm Brenner, our co-founder, and his team at Baylor College of Medicine embarked on a journey to better understand and harness the body’s natural anti-viral immune response as a therapy for cancer treatment. Their research led to the development of our core platform technology, which uses a type of immune cell known as Virus-Specific T cells (VSTs). Early VST studies have shown early efficacy and a strong safety profile in the treatment of cancer.

Leveraging on these promising data, Tessa initiated a Phase II clinical trial for TT10, a VST therapy targeting nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC), at National Cancer Centre Singapore (NCCS), which produced the best-published 2-year survival data in patients with advanced NPC. The trial results set the stage for a Phase III trial – the world’s largest T cell therapy trial for any cancer indication with 330 patients across 30 hospitals in 5 countries.

Today, Tessa is building a portfolio of next-generation therapies targeting a wide range of cancer indications, by combining VSTs with other immuno-oncology approaches. We are proud to be spearheading innovation in the field of cancer immunotherapy and are committed to making a difference in the lives of more cancer patients.

“Tessa has a unique focus on making use of viruses as a driver for therapeutic treatments of cancer, and that’s very important because T cells, in particular, have primarily emerged to control virus infections.” Dr. Malcolm Brenner, Scientific Co-founder of Tessa Therapeutics.

Platform Technology

Our core Virus-Specific T cells platform shows promising efficacy and proven safety in multiple solid tumor and hematologic neoplasms.

What is a Virus-Specific T cell (VST)?

VSTs are highly specialized T cells produced specifically in response to a viral infection. These cells have the ability to recognize and kill infected cells while activating other parts of the immune system for a coordinated response. VSTs persist in the body and activate a rapid immune response if the virus is encountered again.

Properties of VSTs

  • Clinical Benefit

Complete and partial responses observed in several solid tumor indications, including advanced nasopharyngeal cancer, cervical cancer, and neuroblastoma

  • Safety Profile

Hundreds of patients infused across a variety of settings – VSTs as a single agent, with genetic modifications (including CARs), or as allogeneic therapy – with no cytokine release syndrome (CRS) or central nervous system (CNS) Toxicity. Only grade 1 & 2 toxicities observed.

  • Persistence

Complete responses ongoing at 20 months (cervical cancer). VSTs have been observed to persist over 8 years post-fusion 5 and 29 months (EBV+ lymph proliferative disease).

T-Cell Therapy Treatment: How Does it Work?

Step 1: Blood Collection

The patient’s blood is collected at the hospital site.

Step 2: Transportation & Handling

The collected blood is transported to Tessa’s central production facility or satellite labs.

Step 3: VST Initiation & Expansion

The patient’s white blood cells are isolated and the virus-specific T (VST) cell population is selectively activated & expanded.

Step 4: Chemotherapy

Coinciding with the VST production period, the patient receives chemotherapy.

Step 5: Infusion & Monitoring

Tessa ships the patient’s VSTs to the hospital site, where the investigational therapy is intravenously infused in the patient and carefully monitored for any adverse reactions.

Target Indications Include:

  • Nasopharyngeal Cancer
  • Cervical Cancer
  • Oropharyngeal Cancer

How is our VST platform widely applicable?

The solid safety profile of VSTs enables our platform to be combined with a wide range of next-generation therapies, broadening the cancer range and enhancing the scalability of our treatments.

Allogeneic Therapy Using Tessa’s VST Platform

Allogeneic VSTs are generated from healthy donors’ cells to provide an off-the-shelf treatment option to patients. Due to the viral specificity of their TCRs, VSTs do not require TCR or HLA gene editing to ensure a low risk of graft-versus-host disease.

Andrew Khoo; Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder

Andrew Khoo co-founded Tessa, along with Dr. Malcolm Brenner and Mr. Francis Chua, and has been the CEO of Tessa since. An active investor in healthcare and technology-focused start-ups; Mr. Khoo is also a Director of other leading biotechnology companies such as Vyriad and Enleofen Bio. Prior to founding Tessa, Mr. Khoo worked in various roles at global banks including JP Morgan and Citigroup. He began his career at the Singapore Economic Development Board. Mr. Khoo holds a B.S. in Chemistry from Stanford University.

 

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