Pan Cancer T B.V., a biotech spin-off from the Erasmus MC founded by Prof. Dr. Reno Debets (CSO) and Dr. Dora Hammerl (VP R&D), announces the closing of a seed investment and start of operations. Together with Katrien Reynders-Frederix (CEO), the team is committed to the discovery and development of novel TCR therapies against solid tumors such as triple negative breast cancer, bladder cancer, lung cancer, and glioma. Seed investors are Swanbridge Capital and Van Herk Ventures, and the young company is further awarded a Health~Holland grant for a public-private-partnership with Erasmus MC.
Over the past decades, innovations in cancer treatments have improved the survival of cancer patients. Despite successes of therapies like Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T-cell therapies, the vast majority of solid cancers remain refractory to such treatments. Pan Cancer T introduces new treatment options for hard-to-treat solid cancers through adoptive therapy with T-cells that are genetically engineered with TCRs. TCR therapy exploits the ability of the immune cells, in this case T-cells, to specifically and efficiently recognize and kill malignant cells according to the expression of intracellular target antigens. The company develops safe and first-in-class TCR T-cell therapies against unique and proprietary targets that are exclusively expressed in multiple tumor types, but absent in healthy tissues. In addition, the company delivers smart treatments that act against tumor micro-environmental hurdles and maximizes the efficacy of TCR T-cells towards solid tumors.
Katrien Reynders-Frederix, CEO of Pan Cancer T, said: "Immunotherapy currently holds a large potential for cancer treatment. Adoptive T-cell therapy is one of the most promising approaches that has already proven its feasibility and clinical benefit in tumors in several clinical trials. The team is committed to develop safe and potent therapies, and the first data underscore the potential of our lead program where T-cells are directed against the PCT-1 target. Thanks to the support of our investors and Health~Holland, we are able to advance our pre-clinical programs. I am honored to be part of a company that has the potential to positively impact millions of lives. We are looking forward to further expanding our investor base and raising a Series A financing round to accelerate our programs.”
Reno Debets, CSO of Pan Cancer T, Professor at Erasmus MC and specialist in T-cell immunity and adoptive therapy of tumors, stated: “The fact that tumors grow and metastasize is often a consequence of immune evasion, pointing to the inherent ability of T-cells to selectively recognize and potently destruct tumors. To translate this ability towards patient care, we exploit fundamental platforms established over the last decade in our laboratory. Our platforms cover tumor-selective targets for T-cells; technologies to identify safe and effective TCRs; as well as strategies to overcome T-cell suppressive effects of the tumor micro-environment. It is exactly this research fundament that goes head-on against the current challenges of immunotherapies. I am really proud and confident that with our enthusiastic team we will make important steps towards improved patient care”.
Thijs Spigt, Director of Technology Transfer Office at Erasmus MC Rotterdam: “Erasmus MC’s mission is to provide excellence in patient care, education and research. A key strategic element supporting this mission is the valorization of research findings. The establishment of Pan Cancer T, together with Swanbridge and Van Herk, fits a series of perfect examples how Erasmus MC is able to translate excellent research into development of new therapies for difficult to treat cancer types. We continue to support the team, and look forward to a prosperous future for the company”.
Cillian King, Investment Manager at Swanbrigde Capital, commented: “Recent advances in our understanding of the immune system and its role in cancer have resulted in the uptake of many new immunotherapies into clinical practice. However, despite remarkable results for some patients, many patients still lack effective treatment options, particularly those with solid tumors with immune suppressive microenvironments. We believe the science, expertise, and vision behind Pan Cancer T has the potential to profoundly impact patient outcomes and we look forward to supporting the company along this exciting journey”.
About Pan Cancer T
Pan Cancer T was founded in late 2020 and span-off from Erasmus MC (Rotterdam, the Netherlands) to advance first-in-class TCR T-cell therapies for hard-to-treat solid tumors. The company’s approach includes two differentiating elements. First, it exploits unique targets for T-cells that are exclusively expressed by multiple solid cancers. Second, it applies innovative technologies to select naturally occurring and highly specific TCRs that recognize these targets, as well as immune-modulating treatments to overcome tumor micro-environmental challenges in the targeted cancers. The company has ongoing R&D programs to develop safe and effective adoptive T cell therapies amenable to large cohorts of patients with triple negative breast cancer, bladder cancer ovarian, lung adenocarcinoma, or glioma. For more information: www.pancancer-t.com
About Swanbridge Capital
Swanbridge Capital is an early-stage venture capital fund that is focused on (pre-)seed investments in the life sciences industry. The fund invests in the development of novel therapies, diagnostics and medical devices. Swanbridge Capital was founded in 2016 and is based in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. For more information: www.swanbridgecapital.nl
About Van Herk Ventures
Van Herk Ventures is part of the Rotterdam-based Van Herk Groep and holds a portfolio of investments in real estate, energy and life sciences. The Van Herk Groep invests in the life sciences sector through direct investments in private and listed companies and in venture capital funds. Major investments include Galapagos, Zealand Pharma, BioInvent, DCprime, Ablynx (sold to Sanofi), and Crucell (sold to J&J). For more information: www.vanherkgroep.nl/beleggingen
About Erasmus Medical Center
Erasmus MC is the largest University Medical Center in the Netherlands. Erasmus MC’s primary goal is the establishment and maintenance of a healthy population. Nearly 14,000 employees devote themselves to providing outstanding care, facilitating world-class education and conducting pioneering research. These professionals are instrumental in developing expertise on health and illness. They link the latest scientific insights to practical treatments and prevention measures, thereby providing maximum benefit to patients and at the same time enable people to live healthier lives. For more information: www.erasmusmc.nl