The chief scientist at German/US biotech hybrid Immatics is moving to the helm. Here's his to-do list
Just a few months after launching their 4th clinical trial for a unique brand of cell therapies, the German-US hybrid biotech Immatics is promoting the biotech’s long-time chief scientist and co-founder to the helm.
Harpreet Singh, CSO and head of the Houston branch of the company — which is allied with investigators at MD Anderson — has been promoted to overall CEO, a post which gives him oversight of a growing slate of trials for adoptive T cell therapies, bispecifics with a group of partners that includes Amgen, Roche and Genmab as well as an off-the-shelf approach to these new cancer therapies.
German billionaire Dietmar Hopp backed the company early and joined Amgen and other investors to push the funding at Immatics past the $230 million mark in the fall of 2017. Cell therapies are a hot arena, but Immatics has been working on differentiating themselves with more specialized targeting of their own T cell drugs using a broader range of intracellular targets — creating what they’ve billed as a next-gen approach to the personalized CAR-T therapies that have now made their way to the market. And they have solid tumors in their sights.
I asked Singh what he planned to do now at the 19-year-old biotech, which has traveled a long road since spinning out of the University of Tübingen, Germany. And not surprisingly he has quite a lot on the to-do list, including seeing about a possible new partnership, the rollout of their first batch of early-stage data and more. Here, in his own words, is what he has planned:
I want Immatics to become the global leader in TCR-based immunotherapy – and we are on an excellent track getting there. While we clearly are already THE world-leading company in the discovery of novel I/O targets and TCRs, we do not see ourselves just as a platform company but dedicated to developing clinical-stage products that will deliver the power of T cells to cancer patients. We currently have 4 adoptive cell therapy (ACT) clinical trials underway with MD Anderson Cancer Center and working intensely on moving our allogeneic ACT as well as our TCR Bispecifics candidates into the clinic. On top of this, our partners such as Amgen, Roche and Genmab are also moving – in collaboration with us – further bispecific candidates towards first-in-man trials. And we are considering to enter another strategic alliance with a large player in the field of cell therapy.
We see the biggest need in solid cancers where we have identified five factors to overcome the challenges in this field and we address all of them. These include (1) leveraging the best tumor targets, (2) the best T-cell receptors, (3) unleashing an unprecedented level of T cells against cancer cells, (4) specifically targeting the tumor microenvironment and finally (5) utilizing multiple TCRs simultaneously. The latter has not been done before. At the AACR Immune Cell Therapies Conference in San Francisco (19-22 July), we will share with the public first data from our ACTolog multi-T cell product clinical trial demonstrating for the first time how we have replaced more than half (!) of the patient’s relevant immune cells with multiple adoptively infused T-cell populations directed to a number of defined cancer as well as tumor stroma targets – these targets actually confirmed to be expressed in the individual patient who we have treated.