Discovery, R&D

Parker collaborator Tessa allies with St. Jude, launches a new T cell program for pediatric brain cancer

After picking up some high-profile allies at the Parker Institute, where top scientists have become enamored with its virus-specific approach to developing new cancer cell therapies, Singapore-based Tessa Therapeutics is launching a new development program for brain cancer in the US.

In a tie-up with St. Jude Children’s, Tessa will use its platform tech to develop a multi-antigen strategy for high-grade gliomas, starting with the kids at the hospital. 

Stephen Gottschalk

The big idea here stems from the frustration behind watching currently available therapies fail as the aggressive form of cancer rebounds following an initial response. Tessa wants to show how its preclinical program using CAR-expressing Virus-Specific T cells — or VSTs — could change that prognosis, hoping to advance therapies that would trigger a more durable response.

Tessa CSO John Connolly is leading the team alongside Stephen Gottschalk, chair of the St. Jude Department of Bone Marrow Transplantation and Cellular Therapy. The St. Jude team of investigators also includes Giedre Krenciute and Jean-Yves Metais. 

“If successful,” Gottschalk said, “multi-CAR VSTs could be adapted to other pediatric cancers that cannot be cured with conventional therapies.”

Tessa raised $130 million for its work recently. I included them in the first Endpoints 11 list of promising private companies around the global.

Image: John Connolly and his team. TESSA

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Research Scientist - Immunology
Recursion Pharmaceuticals Salt Lake City, UT
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Atlas Venture Cambridge, MA

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