Immunocore Limited, the world’s leading TCR company developing biological drugs to treat cancer, infectious diseases and autoimmune diseases, announced an investment from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to support the development of Immunocore’s soluble TCR-based therapeutics for infectious diseases.
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will invest up to $40 million in Immunocore to support development of Immunocore’s ImmTAV (Immune mobilising monoclonal TCRs Against Virus) and ImmTAB (Immune mobilising monoclonal TCRs Against Bacteria) therapeutics for infectious diseases that pose a global health challenge. The collaboration will discover and develop ImmTAV and ImmTAB molecules for the treatment of tuberculosis (TB) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) where the TCR-based therapeutics have the potential to reduce treatment timelines and improve patient outcomes. Immunocore will also continue expanding its platform technology to enable therapeutics with broad coverage of the affected disease population.
The investment by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation was made as part of its programme-related investments (PRI) strategy, which aims to stimulate private sector-driven innovation, encourage market-driven efficiencies and attract external capital to priority global health and development initiatives that improve the lives of the world’s most vulnerable people.
Viral and bacterial infections are among the leading global causes of morbidity and mortality. The global burden of tuberculosis is staggering – up to one-third of the world’s population are latently-infected with 10.4 million new active cases and 1.8 million deaths occurring annually. Additionally, despite the progress that has been made around treatment and prevention, there are over 1.8 million new HIV infections and 1 million deaths each year.
This new collaboration is part of a larger initiative within Immunocore to apply its soluble TCR-based therapeutics to areas outside of oncology, including infectious diseases and autoimmune diseases. In 2016, Immunocore published preclinical data in Molecular Therapy that demonstrated the potential of Immunocore’s ImmTAV molecules to redirect the immune system to kill HIV-infected cells from patients treated with antiretroviral therapy, thus facilitating clearance of reactivated latently infected HIV reservoir cells. These data, coupled with the clinical efficacy and safety profile emerging from the Company’s lead programme, IMCgp100 in oncology, set the foundation for the application of the Immunocore platform technology across multiple diseases.
Eliot Forster, Chief Executive Officer at Immunocore, commented: “Many infectious diseases continue to represent a huge and growing global challenge. We’re delighted and honoured that the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, one of the most significant forces for positive change in global healthcare, has recognised the potential of Immunocore’s platform technology for advancing novel therapeutics for infectious diseases such as TB and HIV.”
Chris Karp, Director of Discovery & Translational Sciences at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation commented: “The Foundation is committed to supporting and translating scientific research that can have transformative impact on those conditions that cause the greatest burden of morbidity and mortality in the world at large. We are excited to support the development of Immunocore’s TCR-based platform because we believe these treatments have the potential to make a fundamental difference in the lives of patients infected with TB and HIV.”
Namir Hassan, Vice President of the Infectious Disease Unit at Immunocore, commented: “We believe the immune system harbours the capacity to resolve problematic infectious diseases and our TCR based therapies are well placed to mobilise this process. Our purpose in the Immunocore infectious disease unit is to revolutionise treatments for diseases such as hepatitis B, tuberculosis, and HIV and provide affordable medicines globally including in the developing world. This collaboration will be critical to this initiative.”