Enabling the next generation of engineered cell therapies
Unum Therapeutics’ technology platforms are discovering treatments designed to overcome cancer’s ability to evade or suppress the immune system and potentially cure solid tumor cancers.
Our technologies address the major scientific obstacles in T cell therapy:
Overcoming the difficult solid tumor microenvironment
Scientists have discovered that the solid tumor microenvironment is highly immunosuppressive, blocking T cells from functioning as they should.
To address this issue, Unum has developed a new technology called BOXR, or Bolt-on Chimeric Receptor, to discover and incorporate “bolt-on” transgenes to enhance intrinsic T cell functionality and overcome multiple mechanisms of immunosuppression in the solid tumor microenvironment. The BOXR platform creates engineered tumor-targeting T cells designed to survive longer and perform better in the solid tumor microenvironment. BOXR candidates have two main components:
- A targeting receptor that directs the T cell to attack tumor cells, which may be a traditional CAR receptor, a T cell receptor, or Unum’s ACTR receptor
- A novel “bolt-on” transgene that improves the intrinsic function of the T cell.
Unique Platform to Interrogate T Cell Biology
Unum’s BOXR discovery platform is designed to broadly evaluate T cell phenotype and function through a rigorous, multi-stage screening strategy that simulates the solid tumor microenvironment. We have leveraged our proprietary screenings to discover and enrich a library of master regulatory genes of T cell biology that regulate pathways essential for cell growth, proliferation, and survival under a variety of conditions that mimic the solid tumor microenvironment. These BOXR bolt-on transgenes are selected for their ability to address key immunosuppressive mechanisms of solid tumors, including metabolic competition, immune suppressor cells and exhaustion due to chronic stimulation. Our BOXR transgenes can then be engineered with therapeutic T cells, including both ACTR T cells and CAR T cells, to improve the functionality of T cell therapies, particularly in the solid tumor microenvironment.
Our BOXR platform objectives include expanding the scope of biological mechanisms and transgenes in the proprietary library, enabling BOXR bolt-on applications for a broad range of immune cell therapies, including both autologous and allogeneic approaches, and advancing new BOXR product candidates into the clinic.
Eliciting a more specific and potent antitumor immune response
ACTR, or Antibody-Coupled T Cell Receptor, was initially discovered by Dr. Dario Campana, one of the early pioneers in CAR T cell therapy. Unum has turned Dario’s discovery into a therapeutic platform, making it possible to use a cancer patient’s genetically engineered T cells to attack their cancer. ACTR is unique because it connects the cancer cell-killing ability of T cells with the tumor-targeting ability of co-administered antibodies. ACTR therapies are designed to be highly selective, persistent, and controllable.